Theft and Trousers: Adventures in Research
A nicely choreographed scene, from the NYT November 6, 1894: “The Burglar Stole His Trousers”
In Bayonne, New Jersey, a burglar entered a Mr. Darvel’s home, forcing him at revolver point to give up his trousers. The trousers had fifty dollars in the pocket. The burglar retreated, and Mr. Darvel took action, firing his own revolver. The burglar attempted three times to return fire, but his gun failed him. Mr. Darvel, taking advantage of this lapse, aimed at the burglar: and found he had no more bullets. He stepped forward and struck the burglar with his revolver. Unperturbed by this, the burglar “walked leisurely away”. Mr. Darvel recovered his trousers.
This book should not be tossed aside lightly. From the Whitstable Times and Tankerton Press, September 21, 1935: “Whitstable Man’s Trousers”
A Mr. Saunders, brought before the magistrates at the Chatham and County Petty Sessions, was charged with breaking into a public house. He’d left behind a putty knife, electric torch, and a library book. The detective constable readily traced the book to its borrower. Inquiries brought him to the Sailor’s Rest, where Saunders lived under an assumed name. Here the detective discovered a parcel containing trousers. The left leg of the trousers had traces of paint and red lead which corresponded to evidence from the window frame at the crime scene. Keeping watch on the Sailor’s Rest, the detective saw the suspect at length enter, and approached him. He admitted “I am Saunders”. The unemployed Saunders had burgled on impulse; by his account, to feed his family and redeem a suit of clothes. He was remanded in custody.