Sign of the Times, 1910

I’ve been exploring some Blantyre related stories from 1910 lately. In February 1910, a seemingly respectable appearing young lad of 16 stood in court accused with multiple thefts.

It was Mid February 1910 and the lad deemed as a ‘message boy’ acting on behalf of others was taking the rap for the thefts, rather than those instructing him to do so. Before Sheriff Thomson at Hamilton Sheriff Court, he was charged with having stolen an overcoat from St Brides School Cambuslang on 9th December 1909, and similar coat thefts from Auchinraith School on 11th January and on 21st January from Low Waters School in Hamilton.

The bizarre crime, may not have been so bizarre in 1910. It was a cold winter and quality, heavy overcoats and clothing fetched a good price and could even be pawned. The lad never stayed in any one area and had only been caught at Motherwell where a teacher observed him hanging around the school and with knowledge about the thefts at other schools, had detained him until police arrived.

During the court proceedings, those in the room were shocked to learn he was wanted also in Paisley, Glasgow, Greenock, Renfrew, Dumbarton and Coatbridge on similar charges! Something was clearly driving this type of theft. The untraceable nature of the stolen item, the ease of which it could be sold for decent money, the necessity and demand from others in that cold winter. This didn’t end well for the lad, whose name is unknown.

This young serial coat thief was sentenced to prison, where I’m sure there would have been a lack of any such comfort.

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