1918 Court: Boys’ crime spree is brought to an end

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At the Scarborough Children’s Court, before the Mayor (Mr CC Graham) and Alderman Ascough, four boys ranging from 10 to 12, were charged with thefts. Three were charged with stealing 16 bars of Scarborough rock, value 8s, the property of Simpson Rawling, on the 16th of August; three with stealing three fishing lines, value 4s 6d, the property of Mr DM Ramsbottom, and three with stealing ivory bagatelle balls, a number of foreign stamps, two pencil cases, and a silver neck chain and several other articles, value £3 6s, the property of Harry Orchard, between the 18th of May and the 17th of August.

Most of the boys were implicated in all the charges. There were no special features about the first two cases. The boys simply went into the store and stole the articles.

The Chief Constable said Mr Orchard was the landlord of the Leeds Arms, St Mary’s Street, but just now resided at Leeds. The Leeds Arms had been closed some time and left untenanted. On Saturday, May 18th, Mr Orchard left everything secure. In consequence of a police message he came to Scarborough on the 17th August and found the place all in disorder. Glass had been broken and articles taken. The police had ascertained that some of the boys had been seen to throw bagatelle balls into the harbour, and they had been recovered by another boy and handed over to the police.

When questioned that they had played billiards in the Leeds Arms and “stick knife” five or six times. They had also taken articles. Mr Windsor added that apart from the property stolen, Mr Orchard estimated that between £30 and £40 worth of damage had been done.

The boys were given good characters by their parents.

The Mayor, addressing the boys, said they had admitted going into houses and stealing things. It was a very serious state of things and if they had been a few years older they would have been sent to prison. It was evident that they had been systematically going into houses. A good sound thrashing would perhaps do as much good as anything. The magistrates would adjoin the case for a week in order to get a report as to how the parents dealt with the defendants in the meantime. If the report was not satisfactory the magistrates would have to consider whether they would not use the birch. One Parent: I have punished him already.

The Chief Constable then called in five other boys who, he said, admitted having been in the Leeds Arms but did not take anything. In the East Ward district, the moment a property was empty, boys seemed to take a delight in damaging it in a spirit of mischievousness.

The Mayor said it was a very serious state of things. He told the boys they had absolutely no right to go into other people’s houses.