Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The Great Comb Caper

On May 1, 1900, police chased a man through the streets of Jamaica Plain, as described here. Perhaps inspired by that incident, just a few days later the boys of Call street decided to get in on the act, and chased four young men through the streets. Hilarity ensues. In the end, the chase was far more impressive than the crime.

Boston Daily Globe May 6, 1900

Hot Thief Chase.

Jamaica Plain Stirred Up Once More.

Four Men Followed by an Army of Yelling Youngsters.

Finally Apprehended and Placed in Cells.

They Tell a Queer Story of Their Experiences.

Admit They Stole From Boston & Maine Freight Car.

Once again Jamaica Plain was stirred up over the chasing of thieves by the police of that section when about 6 o'clock last evening, after another cross-country run, four men fell into the hands of the officers of the law. They are William Scholes, John Dwyer, Joseph Keller and Frank Costello.

Some boys playing on Call st. near the tracks of the New York, New Haven & Hartford railroad, saw four men walk along the tracks, and when a little beyond the Jamaica Plain station step out on to the bank. In a moment they lay down. The boys gathered to see the men go to sleep, as they supposed, on the railroad bank. One of them suggested that they tell the "cops," and the idea was at once approved by all the youngsters. They had gone but a short distance on their errand when they met officer William M. Frank, and they told him about "some fellers on the railroad bank."

As soon as the men saw the policeman coming they ran down the bank, jumped the fence to Call st and started to run. Frank dashed after them. He grabbed one, who proved later to be Frank Costello, and started for the station with him.

The other three men had run down Call st and turning into Everett st went up the hill. At their heels was a mob of 50 boys yelling like wild Indians. Up the hill they went, past some of Jamaica Plain's finest residents and through some intricate turnings on to Revere st. At the foot of Revere st is the police station and directly toward it the fleeing men were running. All along the route of the chase windows were opened by residents, startled by the racket, and excited voices were heard inquiring, "What's the matter?"

In the station house were Lieut Chase, Sergt Bruce and patrolman Berry. Their attention was attracted by the noise, and glancing out of the window saw the men coming down the hill pursued by the boys. Running out of the station they arrived at the street at the same time the men had reached that spot. Patrolman Berry grabbed Wm. Scholes and turned him over to Lieut Chase. Sergt Bruce captured Joseph Keller. There was only one remaining, and he turned down Maple pl and jumping over a fence got into Brown pl. But Berry was at his heels and soon had him. He proved to be John Dwyer.

When questioned at the station Scholes said he was 20 years old and his home was in Springfield. Dwyer gave his age as 20 and his home in Montreal. Cantello said he was 16 and lived at 224 Harrison av, Boston. Keller said his residence was at Peabody and that he was 21.

They told the police they had been working on cattle ships, coming across on the Kansas, which arrived in Boston last Monday. After leaving the boat they went over the road to Portland, Me. Thursday night they started back to Boston, walking to Portsmouth, N.H. At this place they were given permission by a freight brakeman to ride on his train. Soon after leaving Lynn the train stopped, either to leave or take on some more cars. One of them found a car open, and all four went in. Seeing a good-sized box there, they took it out and opened it. It was filled with combs. After dividing the spoils, they put the box back into the car. Then they went further back on the train, and getting onto another car, came to Boston, arriving yesterday morning.

When asked what they were doing out in Jamaica Plain, they said they were on their way to Hyde Park, where they expected to get lodgings at a police station over night. It was their intention to sell the combs later.

The men were placed in cells to await their trial Monday morning in the West Roxbury district court.

For some time past the section has been the field for a lot of petty thieving, house breaking, while families were away, and the like. The patrolmen have had strict orders to keep their eyes open for suspicious characters. That this is being done is evidenced by the fact that during the past week nine men have been arrested by the police of the division, and have proved to be important captures. Besides this a number of suspicious characters have been followed and driven out of the district.

Capt Brown is determined to clear the section of the house workers, and he is being ably supported by those under him.

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