A Woman With A Bad Record

by Laurel | December 14th, 2011

14 December 1911

Capture of a Shoplifter

Caught in the Steiger Store

Exciting Episode Yesterday Afternoon When Lou West Was Nabbed and Showed Fight.

Lou West, a woman of about 50 years and many aliases, alleged by the police to be one of the most widely-known shoplifters in the country, was caught yesterday in the store of Albert Steiger Company. The woman was landed in the hands of the police through the cleverness of Miss Angie Blakesley of Holyoke, a clerk in the Steiger store. She was assisted by other employees of the store when the woman showed considerable fight. The woman’s efforts to escape were thwarted and soon afterward she was escorted to police headquarters by Capt. John H. Boyle of the detective bureau. She at first refused to say who she was, but finally after Capt. Boyle made it plain to her that he knew, she confessed, the police say.

The woman claimed at first that her name was Maude Mitchell, but later when her identity was proved she admitted aliases of Annie Kelly, Mrs. J. Mart and Emma Marsh. According to the police, she is one of a coterie of shoplifters who were rounded up about six years ago in Monon, Indiana, with about $1500 worth of furs in their possession. At that time the West woman received a jail sentence of three years, which she served. Capt. Boyle is of the opinion that she has served time since then. She was accompanied yesterday by another woman, who may be one of the gang with whom she was arrested in Monon.

The woman with her companion went to the Steiger store yesterday afternoon around 3:30 and made their way t the cloak, suit and fur departments on the second floor. Both were well dressed and wore costly sets of furs. They were shown about the fur department by Miss Blakesley, who did not like the looks of the two women very well and was somewhat suspicious of their actions. Several articles have been missed at the Steiger store during the Christmas shopping season and Mr. Steiger has instructed the clerks to keep a watchful eye on all suspicious customers. Miss Blakesley kept rather close to her two customers, who, after looking about the fur department, went into the suit department where there were exhibited a number of costly gowns.

The entrance to this section of the store is gained by means of a mirrored door, and Miss Blakesley was able to watch her customers’ actions in this mirror, the door being left ajar at an angle which enabled her to see what was going on within. She saw one of the women take down a $75 silk gown, roll it up and slip it into a small bag which she carried. Miss Blakesley then went up to the woman and told her what she had seen. Immediately the woman attempted to get away, but Miss Blakesley was too quick for her. The woman showed fight and a lively scuffle was started. Mrs. Elizabeth Rance, another clerk, Thomas Sweeney, a floorwalker, and one or two others went to Miss Blakesley’s aid and the woman was soon overpowered. Her companion escaped during the scuffle. A telephone message to the police station summoned Capt. Boyle who took charge of the woman. On of the first things he did was to have the woman remove a long, dangerous-looking hatpin from her muff and replace it in her hat. She had had little chance to do damage with this weapon in the scuffle.

At the police station the woman said she was 40, but looked 50 or more. Her natural hair was somewhat gray, but an abundance of false hair made her appear younger. She is about five feet five inches tall and weighs about 150 pounds. Capt. Boyle locked her up and then proceeded to peruse the pages of the “Detective,” a police periodical which contains photographs of criminals, descriptions, etc. A Bertillon photograph was taken of the woman, and by the aid of that she was identified in the “Detective.” This periodical told about her capture in Indiana six years ago under the alias of Emma Marsh. At that time in company with “Anna Burke,” “William Mackey,” “May Armsrong,” “James Hurdick,” “Charles Hammel,” “Mary Cassidy,” and “Joseph Conley,” she was arrested in Molon, Indiana. There were two gangs at work about the time the arrests were made. On October 24, 1905, she, along with Hammel, the Cassidy woman and Conley, was arrested in a hotel in Molon and about $1500 worth of stolen furs were found in their possession. The other gang skipped, but a clue picked up at Delphi, Indiana, aided in tracing them to a hotel in Chicago, Illinois, where they were captured with a lot of stolen goods on them.

When shown her picture in the “Detective” the woman admitted her identity. Mr. Steiger said last night that he had offered a reward for just such cases and that the clerks who assisted in the capture of “Lou West” would come in for their share of it. He was well pleased with the detective work of Miss Blakesley.

From The Springfield Republican.

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