e2bn E2BN
Victorian Crime and Punishment
HomePrisoner case studiesPrisoners19th Century JusticeTeachers Area

Teaching resources

On The Trail Part 1: A Robbery is Committed


It is March 1887.

Your name is Sergeant Steward.

The landlady of a pub in the town has called in one of your police constables, PC Wilson because a customer has been robbed.

PC Wilson is a conscientious officer, and has done a good job of taking down the statements in his notebook of Mrs Rose, the landlady, and Mr Perry, the person robbed.

Your job is to catch the crook - but you first have to identify him.

You need to put together a description of the thief using the information from PC Wilson's notebook as your starting point.

PC Wilson writes:

I was walking my beat in Huntingdon town centre, when a lady, who identified herself as Mrs Adele Rose, the landlady of the King's Arms pub, hurried up to me and said that a customer of hers had been robbed. I immediately went with her to the pub and found a man, a Mr John Perry, in a state of some distress, his purse having been stolen from him.

Mr Perry's statement:
"I had just had my lunch in the pub - and a very good meal it was too! - and was just stepping out on to the street when a man pushed passed me from inside the pub, nearly knocking me over. He then ran a little way, chucked something to a mate of his, and then disappeared down an alley. I collected myself together, with Mrs Rose's help, and then felt in my pocket to find my purse had gone missing. I knew immediately what had happened, but by then both the thief and his accomplice had vanished."

I (PC Wilson) asked Mr Perry to describe the men. He couldn't really get a good view of the accomplice, but as the thief pushed passed him he got a sight of him.

He was a man in his late 20s or early 30s. He was quite well dressed, and of medium build and height. He had a pasty face, brown hair and blue eyes.

I asked whether the man had any identifying marks, and Mr Perry said: "Not as far as I could see, it was all over in a jiffy. However, when he shouted to his mate, he had an accent - Irish, I'm pretty sure. I've travelled around a bit, and I think I know an Irish accent when I hear one."

Mrs Rose's testimony:
"It was just after lunch and I was clearing the tables. I was quite near the door on to the street when suddenly a man, who I hadn't noticed before (the room was quite busy) rudely shoved past me to the door, just as poor Mr Perry was leaving. I heard a shout, and I went outside at once to investigate. I was just in time to see the man throw the purse to his friend and then both vanished down different side streets. Mr Perry then realised that it was his purse that had been the object thrown, and he gave chase - very bravely, I thought. But he was too late - the thieves had made their escape."

I (PC Wilson) asked Mrs Rose to describe the men. Like Mr Perry she was unable to describe the accomplice, but she had caught a site of the thief as he hurried to the door.

She described him as a tall man, about 30 years old. He had light sort of hair, and one thing she had noticed about him as he shoved past her was his "very nice" grey eyes. She thought they looked out of place on a n'ere-do-well like him. She also said he spoke with a funny accent, but as she hasn't travelled much outside Huntingdon, she didn't know where it was from.

I asked,  "Did he have any identifying marks?"

Mrs Rose: "No, not that I could see. However, when he called out to his friend, I thought what a nice voice he had. You could listen to it for hours."

End of PC Wilson's notebook entry.

 

Summarise the information in PC Wilson's notebook by jotting down the following points about the thief:

Age:
Hair colour:
Eye colour:
Complexion:
Height:
Any other remarks:

Put a star by the parts of the description that you think seem most reliable.