1916 court: Gang of boys break into Foreshore lock-up shops

The remarkable manner in which a number of Scarborough schoolboys systematically entered and rifled lock-up premises on the South Foreshore Road, came to light at the Children's Court before Alderman Pirie, Mr AW Sinclair and Mr WW Gibson.

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 27th February 2016, 10:00 am

The boys were charged with breaking and entering the lock-up shop, 28a, South Foreshore Road and feloniously stealing one stone of apples, four dozen oranges, two dozen bananas, and a shoe brush, value together 10s, the property of Henry Zipfel, between 24th February and 2nd March. They were further charged with breaking and entering the lock-up shop, 27, South Foreshore Road, and feloniously stealing a quantity of Scarborough rock and toffee, of the value of 10s, the property of Thomas William Broadbent, between 24th February and 2nd March.

All the boys pleaded guilty in both cases.

The facts were briefly stated by the chief constable, who said the two premises on the South Foreshore Road were lock-up shops. There was an entrance to the shops from the road and also from The Bolts at the back. It seems an entrance had been effected in this case from The Bolts. It was found that these shops were in very great disorder, things thrown about all over the place, disturbed, turned completely upside down and altogether in a shocking state. The conclusion arrived at was that the place had been entered. Enquiries were made and these boys were subsequently apprehended by Detective Sergeant Yeoman. Statements were made by each of them, which showed that they were all implicated, although only certain boys actually broke and entered the premises. They were all working together, each helping to steal the things. The whole affair seemed to have originated from one boy, who, in the presence of the other boys on Sunday said, “I know where there are some sweets.” He explained everything to them and it was eventually arranged another should stand on the Foreshore Road opposite the shop, and throw a stone over the premises in order to indicate to the rest of the boys at the back where the shops were. This done, they all went up to the door which left into the shops, but found it locked. Two boys thereupon proceeded to pull off the shutters from a window, entered and opened the entrance door.

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Having been home for their dinners they returned to the shops and helped themselves again, a chisel being used in the process to open one of the boxes they found. On Tuesday last they visited the place again, and got some oranges and some tins of toffee.

Proceeding, the chief said these shops were not used now; in fact the owner of one of them was away from Scarborough, so that no one went there to notice the state of things until 2nd March, the previous day, when upon taking stock, they found all these things missing.

Asked as to the boys’ characters, the chief said there was nothing recorded against any of them before. This was another instance where a gang of boys seemed to think they were young heroes and adventurers. This particular gang styled themselves the Potter Lane Arabs and they seemed to be very proud of the title - where they got their ideas from he, the chief, did not know.

Mr R Underwood, secretary to the education committee, stated the individual school characters of the boys, which were generally very good.

The chief constable incidentally stated the boys did not go to school the previous day, because when they were handed over to their respective parents they ran away. It was with considerable difficulty that the police caught them again, for they had all except one gone as far as Seamer.

The parents of the boys all stated that they had not previously had any trouble whatsoever with them.

The magistrates deliberated in private and upon the chairman said in the first place the bench were very sorry to see the boys there and they were also sorry for their parents. It was a serious case which could not be looked over. They had decided that each of them should pay 2s 6d compensation in the first place and that they should be bound over in the sum of £5 for twelve months under the probation officer, Miss Crosthwaite.

The seriousness of the case really merited their all being birched, but the magistrates would not order this to be done because, as he said before, they felt for them and their parents. One thing the magistrates did think and this was that these gangs should be broken up. They hoped the parents of these boys would prevent them in the future getting into these gangs. It was bad for them and bad for others. They hoped the case would be a warning to them in future.