The Ashburton Guardian. Magna est Veritas et Prævalebit. WEDNESDAY, JUNE 25, 1890.
The New Zealand Exhibition, like similar undertakings, attracted undesirable as well as desirable visitors to the colony. Fortunately the undesirable class were in a very pronounced minority, and the few who did make their appearance were so carefully! " shadowed " by the police that their potency for mischief was, reduced to a. minimum.. The police records cf the city while the Exhibition was being held were not much larger, than usual, and the class of offences dealt with were not of an exceptionally serious nature. This fact may be taken as a guarantee that, from some cause best known. to the fraternity themselves,- New Zealand is not looked upon as a suitable field for the burglar, footpad, pickpocket, or others of the criminal class. Whether these undesirable persons think the colony is so heavily' in debt, and has to send so much home regularly for interest, that there is nothing left worth stealing; pr whether they recognise that ,< our police and detective force is too well organised for a law-breaker to carry on operations profitably, it is impossible ,to say; but the fact remains that only a very limited number of the "profession" honored our shores with a visit. The 1 few, however, who did come, appear -to, have a desire to: remain, and combine " business " pleasure. They have made their presence felt by the circulation of spurious money, by midnight burglaries, by petty, larcenies, and in many other objectionable ways; But the latest development has occurred in Dunedin, where one of the ' fraternity has created no little consternation by waylaying foolish ladies who carry their purses invitingly in their hands. One lady, as would be observed from a paragraph in our last evening's issue, had her purse snatched from her hand by an impudent thief, who decamped with, purse and contents before the terror-stricken loser could realise what had occurred; another female was practically . garrotted,, thrown • down in a public place, and her handbag and purse stolen, and the thief succeeded in getting safely . away. Another instance is recorded from the same cityj where a man was asked the time, and on taking out his watch to see, the inquirer snatched it, and made off. The owner of the watch, however, in this instance pluckily closed with his strange acquaintance and succeeded in getting back his property, though not in holding the would-be thief until assistance arrived. These instances point to the presence in Dunedin, at least, of one dangerous criminal, whose I next exploit may be of a much more serious kind. Whether he has confei derates or not, is, of course, not known, although it may be freely conjectured that he,is not the only relic of the Exhibition boom left in tho colony. One thing, it is satisfactory ho know, and that is that his; career will, in all probability, be speedily cut short, if he persists in his present mode of pro- ' cedure. The New Zealand police force is a well-organised body, and the popu- | lation of the various centres is not large enough for glaring robberies of this character to go long undetected or unpunishod:; 'H_eaiyvyhile it would be * well for tho public, j elsewhere as well as in Dunedin, to be on the alert for surprises from characteis of this, kind, ' Ladies especially should be careful to abandon the foolish habit of carrying purses containing money in their hands, when unattended by a male escort. The temptation to a thief to possess himself of money thus exposed is very great, and after the recent Ijiunedin episode, should any similar larceny I occur, the loser wj.ll niset with very little sympathy, What applies tq ladies will also apply to the sterner sex, who are advised not to expose their watches when asked in the street for the time of day by suspiciouslooking strangers., The freedom of the colony from crime of this nature up to the present has engendered somewhat careless habits on the part of the people in thps,e particulars, and the lesson jugt given in Dunedin should act as a salutary warning,