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Mystery May
The Mysterious Renoir Thief

The Mysterious Renoir Thief
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 4 to 6
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   4.86

     challenging words:    airhead, apprehend, blanc, demure, formality, implement, respective, rochester, uneventful, elegant, inspiration, intelligent, highly, odds, software, theory
     content words:    Metropolitan Museum, New York, If Ms

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The Mysterious Renoir Thief
By Colleen Messina

1     Ms. Rochester was an elegant woman who was in charge of many exhibits at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Her favorite emerald green suit brought out the green in her intelligent eyes. Today she was using her executive abilities in a new way: she was concocting a plan to catch the Renoir thief! She described her plan to Mr. Blanc, the head of security at the museum.
2     "As you know, there have been a series of thefts of paintings by the artist Renoir at museums all over the world. Our museum might be hit next by the Renoir thief. I devised a plan to protect our single, tiny Renoir portrait," said Ms. Rochester.
3     "So what is your plan?" asked Mr. Blanc.
4     Mr. Blanc was not an expert on art, but he took his security work at the museum quite seriously. He was prone to flashes of inspiration from time to time that had helped him solve some art crimes in the past. Ms. Rochester then described her idea to have a small tracking device attached to the back of the Renoir painting. If the painting did get stolen, Mr. Blanc could track it. This would help him and the police apprehend the thief. Mr. Blanc agreed with Ms. Rochester's plan. He looked at the masterpiece in front of him.
5     The demure lady in the portrait wore an elegant black dress and a black hat. The modest woman had skin the color of cream touched with rosy tints. Her dark eyes looked as though she hid a great secret. The 6" by 6" oil painting was the smallest painting ever done by the great artist. If Ms. Rochester's theory was correct, the petite masterpiece could be the Renoir thief's next target.
6     Mr. Blanc and Ms. Rochester decided not to share the plan with anyone, not even Ms. Rochester's lovely assistant, Cheryl. Cheryl was a sweet girl with a pleasing personality, but Ms. Rochester felt that the girl was not particularly smart. She did trust Cheryl to go to other cities to do research on new exhibits, but only when she gave the girl very careful instructions. Ms. Rochester, who tried to think highly of her associates, secretly thought of Cheryl as a bit of an airhead. She saw no need to tell her assistant about the plan.
7     Mr. Blanc went right to work after the meeting to implement the plan. The museum already had a system of security cameras, and these cameras sent images back to computers in Mr. Blanc's office. It took him some time to get the right tracking device and its software. He then installed it on the back of the painting's frame and hung the painting back in the hallway. He would be able to view the location of the device on one of his computer screens. If the device was moved, it would show up on the computer screen, and an alarm would sound. Mr. Blanc enjoyed the challenge of setting up this operation. It made him feel like he was in a movie!
8     The next two nights were uneventful, but on the third night, a weary Mr. Blanc had a surprise. He was sitting in his office sipping horrible black coffee. He checked the computer monitors, and seeing that the halls were empty, he stretched and closed his eyes for just a second. Then he heard a beeping sound--the Renoir painting tracking device!

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