Claudia's new passion for photography has her snapping pictures everywhere — at BSC meetings, at breakfast, and all over Stoneybrook. One afternoon she uses up a whole roll of film on the Stoneybrook Bank, just because she likes the way it looks.
Then the Baby-sitters learn that the bank has been robbed. And it happened the very day that Claudia was there! Though the police suspect the heist was an inside job, they don't have a single lead. But Claudia thinks her photos might contain a significant clue...
Will the thief go free? Not if Claudia and the BSC can help it!
Claudia has to take summer school math again and as a compromise, her parents are allowing her to take photography. Claudia is really into photography and her dad has even allowed her to borrow his camera. Claudia even comes up with a “Day in the Life of Stoneybrook” photo album for Dawn. The day of photography turns out to be fun: the kids are pretty creative & Claudia is inspired by some of the buildings in downtown Stoneybrook. The bank piques Claudia’s interest and takes a lot of pictures of the building.
At the next club meeting, a special announcement comes over the radio; some cash is missing from the bank, but there’s no sign of a robbery. Claudia wonders if she caught something in some of the pictures that she took of the bank that weekend, but when she develops the photos, there is nothing unusual in them; there’s a woman with a baby carriage that appears in a few pictures & a man in a suit whom Stacey thinks looks like a banker which he is.
Claudia, Stacey, Becca, and Charlotte go over to the bank for some detective work & while Stacey is turning in some penny rolls, she notices the man talking with something other bank employees. Later on during a BSC stakeout of the bank, Shannon discovers that the man is Mr. Zibreski, vice-president of the bank. Since the police now believe that the robbery was an inside job and it probably happened while Claudia and the kids were there taking pictures of the bank.
The girls are suspicious and when Claudia tries calling the police tip line, but they think she’s a prank caller & won’t listen. The girls take some of their photos to the police station & the officer at the front desk is just about to write them off when Sergeant Johnson comes over to look over the pictures, but he agrees with the other officer that the pictures don’t really show anything that could be as evidence in court. One day, Claudia is working on developing some more pictures of the bank from the day of the robbery when someone opens the door to the darkroom, but Claudia can’t see who it is & when she runs out of the darkroom, nobody’s there. The pictures are ruined and she’s convinced that the culprit is Mr. Zibreski. She thinks that he’s on to them and wants to ruin their plans.
Claudia is disappointed by the loss of the pictures until she remembers that Mary Anne also took some pictures. Claudia develops them and at first she doesn’t see anything suspicious, but then she notices a light on in one of the bank offices even though it was Sunday and the bank was closed. The girls go to visit Sergeant Johnson again and he admits that the police are suspicious of him too, but they don’t have any proof.
When Claudia is helping the kids decide which pictures to put in Dawn’s book, she notices a few pictures that she think might contain another clue. They all show the same woman getting piles of cash out of an ATM & they think that maybe she rigged it to give her as much money as she wanted. Janine points out that this theory probably isn’t likely because the largest bills found in ATMs are usually $20s, so even if all of the bills the woman is pictured with were $20s, she would only have $1,000 max.
The girls are disappointed until Claudia gets another idea; she enlarges various parts of the different pictures & asks the BSC to come over early for their meeting to check them out. Stacey notices that Mr. Zibreski (even though he has a fancy pocketwatch) keeps checking the wristwatch he’s wearing. Then, Jessi notices that the time on the pocketwatch never changes. Claudia thinks that he might be hiding a key to a safe deposit box in the watch & she is correct.
Sergeant Johnson questions Mr. Zibreski when the girls bring their new photos down to the station & the girls listen as Mr. Zibreski confesses to the crime. Claudia learns that it was Janine who opened the door to the darkroom & not the criminal. Janine had ruined Claudia’s pictures once before by doing that & was too embarrassed to admit that she made the same mistake.
Characters in this book
- Kristy Thomas
- Mary Anne Spier
- Stacey McGill
- Jessi Ramsey
- Mallory Pike
- Dawn Schafer (mentioned)
- Shannon Kilbourne
- Barrett Family: Suzi, Buddy, Marnie
- Pike Family: Adam, Jordan, Nicky, Margo, Claire, Byron, Vanessa
- Newton Family: Jamie, Lucy
- Johanssen Family: Charlotte
- Ramsey Family: Becca
- Braddock Family: Matt and Haley
- Mr. Geist - summer photography teacher at SMS
- Mr. Davies - summer math teacher at SMS
- Professor Woodley - Janine's teacher (mentioned)
- Franklin DeWitt
- Natalie Barrett
- Richard Spier (mentioned)
- Maureen McGill (mentioned)
- Officer Sauter
- Sergeant Johnson
- Jim Zibreski
Places in this book
- Kishi House
- Stoneybrook Elementary School playground
- Thelma's Cafe
- Stoneybrook Bank
- Pizza Express (mentioned)
- Stoneybrook Police Station
- Charlotte is mentioned to be nine in this book, when she's supposed to be eight.
- Suzi Barrett's name is spelled as Suzy