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London Thieves.

'These pearls don't suit; let me see Mine others.' : ' Very well, madam,' and the attendant m the Broadway jewellery store makes a movement towards removing the tray, at the contents of which the customer has been glancing. ' Oh, don't take that away yet. There are one or two little things I may decide to pur chase.' ' Certainly not. Examine, them at your leisure. James, did Mr Jones call for his watch tliis morning V James bobs up from some other part of the store and replies : ' Not yet, sir ; but I am expecting him m soon.' The jewellery salesman goes to the safe to secure a new tray of pearls for the inspection of his well-dressed female patron, and James apparently, busies himself with various duties at another counter, But his keen eyes never leave the woman who toys with the costly trinkets before her, and every : movement of the diamond ringed hands is noted with close and trained scrutiny. The salesman comes : back and remarks — ' I think, James, you had better send those unset stones over to Mr Williams at the. Hoffman. It is not policy to Avait any longer, for he may go out this afternoon. Now, madam, here are some very choice specimens that I think will suit you.' She doesn't know it, but the woman has been under surveillance, and the order was given right before her face by the polite and smiling attendant who so obsequiously received her commands. When the salesman asked, 'Did Mr Jones call for his watch V the word ' watch ' was the only one m the sentence of value or meaning to James. Itjwas an order from one man to the other to keep an eye on the customer. When the salesman returned and said, 'it is not policy to wait any longer,' he intimated to his companion that he could proceed with his other duties. Probably there is no large jewellery establishment m the country where catch words of this nature, are not employed, and where the visitor is not tjhe object of close observation from the moment he enters until he departs. The scutiny m not m the remotest degree impertinent or apparent; it is simply one of the safeguards by which the dealer m precious stones and metals lessens his chances of being robbed. Yet, despite every precaution, it is extremely infrequent for a jewellery merchant, to go through a twelvemonth without sustaining losses, petty m many cases, extremely great m others. A trusted employee may prove dishonest, credit may be given to irresponsible parties, goods ordered to be sent to some address may be paid for with a bogus cheque, or the messenger may be robbed. The lavish window display is a necessity of the business, yet ,it involves one of its chief dangersj for nothing can tempt a desperate, needy and daring rogue more than an array of glittering gold and shining gems. It takes such a person; the briefest possible time to pick up a stone, smash the glass, seize a handful of valuables and make off, fighting his way through the astonished and unready throng of pedestrians to the freedom and safety of a hiding place m some obscure . quarter of the city. Or he may prefer the safer method of entering a shop at dusk, throwing pepper m the'salesman's eyes and escaping ere the pain-maddened clerk can tell those who come to his assistance what has happened. > . , In recent years, however, thievish ingenuity seems to have triumphed more through schemes involving mental skill than brufce force. It is.not so very long ago that commercial London went wild over the operations of a daring . gang, all of the members of which eluded capture, after realising huge, profits from their transactions. The principal m the various ' affairs ' was a handsome young woman, elegantly dressed.; She would enter a jeweller's shop and ask to look at some gems. While engaged m making her selections the music of a hand organ would be heard from the street. The woman would pause, open a pocketbook, take out a shilling, and say : 'It always makes me feel charitable to hear that tune. Pray give me coppers for the i silver.' On receiving the . change she would wrap a portipn of it m a piece of paper and add : ' Please have one of your young men give that to the organ grinder.' After the request had been complied with she would resunie the inspection of the precious stones, make some small investment and prepare to depart. Usually the salesman would discover the absence of from one to three costly gems and detain her. She would grow indignant, he more firm and insistant. The messenger boy sent for a policeman would find one right at the door and call him m. He would place the w6mau under arrest, m&

she would beg him to spare an innocent person the disgrace of being dragged through the streets to jail. A cab would be at hand, and m it the policeman and his prisoner would drive away, after the former had warned the jeweller to be m court promptly next morning. And that was the last the merchant would ever hear of the woman, the organ grinder, the policeman, or the cab driver. All, of course, were confederates. When the female customer sent out the parcel to the street musician it contained, besides the coppers, the stones she had abstracted from the tray. With these m his pocket the organ grinder , promptly disappeared, the bogus policeman took his station within call and a humble but uMul member of the gang took care that meanwhile the genuine policeman on the beat was getting his fill of beer at the most convenient publichouse. The grand exit to the waiting cab of the stern officer and the weeping female completed the artistic details of the swindle. In two days thirty-eight complaints reached the authorities of thefts of this sort, but by the time they got ready to?act n,o one could be found for them to arrest.

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Bibliographic details

London Thieves., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2473, 24 July 1890, Incorrect date

Word Count

London Thieves. Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2473, 24 July 1890, Incorrect date

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