You can surely amuse yourself for hours reading this 1793 guide to rogues
. And I think we should resurrect these old terms for modern times. For instance, if a woman is inconveniently pregnant, let us say she has "sprained her ankle."
Despite all the contemporary tales of ingenious upskirt photographers and toilet-cam operators, I don't believe anyone has recently utilized the "free dress comes with home fitting service" routine.
Original article here.
New Year's Eve, 1946 was the occasion of a classic weird crime.
19-year-old Pearl Lusk thought she had been employed to do some detective work by Allen La Rue, whom she had met on the subway. He told her that he was an insurance investigator. Her mission was to track a suspected jewel thief, Olga Trapani, and collect evidence to build a case against her.
Lusk trailed Trapani for a few days, and then La Rue added a new twist to the assignment. He gave her what he described as an "X-ray camera" camouflaged as a gift-wrapped package and instructed her to take a picture of Trapani with it. The resulting photo, he said, would reveal the jewels that Trapani kept pinned inside her dress, around her waist.
Lusk dutifully followed Trapani into the Times Square subway station, pointed the camera at her, and pulled the trigger wire. A shot rang out and Trapani collapsed to the ground.
It turned out that the "X-ray camera" was really a camouflaged sawed-off shotgun. And Trapani was really La Rue's ex-wife, of whom he had grown insanely jealous. La Rue's real name was Alphonse Rocco. He had been stalking his ex-wife for several months.
Lusk was totally clueless about what she had done. As the subway police rushed up after the shooting, she told them, "I just took this woman’s picture and somebody shot her."
Rocco fled to upstate New York, where he died in a shootout with the police several days later.
Trapani survived, but lost her leg. She and Lusk reportedly became friends after the incident.
You can read more about the case at EinsteinsRefrigerator.com
, or the New Yorker
Philadelphia Inquirer - Jan 1, 1947
Washington Court House Record-Herald - Jan 3, 1947
Here's a guy who was caught on caught on camera stealing pigeons while wearing a bucket on his head and a plastic trash bag around his body. Florida, of course.
More details at wsvn.com
Contrary to the delightful ad, alarm did not speak phrases, but merely sounded the horn, as with modern car alarms.
See the actual device here, with explanation.
The crime of choice of 46-year-old Janet Manning of Brooklyn Park, Maryland was dumping raw chicken livers into mailboxes and bookdrops. Usually on a weekend so they would be discovered on a Monday.
Her motive for doing this was never very clear. After apprehending her, thanks to security-camera footage, the police captain said, "There's no clear-cut rhyme or reason for her to be doing what she was doing to these organizations." He added, "She wouldn't tell us why chicken livers."
But it was evidently some kind of act of revenge, in response to perceived offenses. Library officials recalled that she once had a minor argument with them a year before involving her request to have a printout of all the books she had returned, which the library staff told her their computers weren't set up to do. So they offered to write out the list by hand. That, apparently, was enough to trigger her.
On account of her otherwise clean criminal record, she was fined $1000 and placed on a year's probation.
The Annapolis Capital - May 27, 1998
During the early twentieth century, an unusual method of crime enjoyed some popularity — extortionists and blackmailers demanding that payments be delivered via carrier pigeon. The criminals hoped that the pigeons would be untraceable. But as it turned out, the police often (though not always) were able to track the pigeons and capture the bad guys.
The Pittsburgh Press - Sep 11, 1929
Popular Mechanics - Dec 1929
Los Angeles Herald - Jan 2, 1910
The Harrisburg Telegraph - Apr 3, 1929
Shirley Cromartie was working as a housekeeper at President Nixon's Key Biscayne retreat when, in 1971, she was arrested for shoplifting. She admitted to the crime but insisted that it hadn't been her fault. She explained that a mysterious woman wearing a wig had approached her in the store's parking lot, asked her the time, and had then released a "jasmine-like scent" from her left hand. Cromartie immediately fell into a trance, and the woman instructed her to steal four dresses, which Cromartie proceeded to do.
A medical expert testified that he believed Cromartie was telling the truth.
The Philadelphia Inquirer - Oct 23, 1971
An odd story. But what are we to make of it? There's a couple of possible theories:
Ms. Cromartie got caught shoplifting and made up a b.s. story to explain away her actions.
She was totally nuts.
She had an encounter with an extraterrestrial! UFOlogist John Keel, author of The Mothman Prophecies
, advanced this theory. He speculated that the mysterious, wig-wearing woman was actually a "woman in black" (the female counterpart of a "man in black"). He noted that "Women in Black" cases often describe them as wearing wigs, and the aliens are fond of asking people what time it is.
But why would an alien being bother to make a housekeeper shoplift some dresses? Keel speculated
, "perhaps this was not some small demonstration for the benefit of President Nixon, similar to the power failures that seemed to follow President Johnson in 1967. (The lights failed wherever he went ... from Washington to Johnson City, Texas, to Hawaii)."
More info: mysteriousuniverse.org