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Jan. 2, 1913: Detective stakes out church, nabs thief

Posted by: Ben Welter under Minnesota History, Crime Updated: January 2, 2014 - 8:22 PM
 
Some mighty fine police work by a Minneapolis detective, as reported in the Tribune:
 

Detective Hides in Church
To Arrest Poor Box Thief

 
Woman Suspect Caught in St. Anthony of Padua after Three-day Vigil.
 
Tells Police Matron She Was Poor and Had Right to the Money.
 

For three days Detective Wilson of the East Side Police station lay on a church pew in the gallery of the church of St. Anthony of Padua, Eighth avenue and Main street southeast, peeking between two prayer books he had braced against a pew in front of him.

 
 
  St. Anthony of Padua Church in about 1900. The towers were removed during a renovation in the late 1940s. (Photo courtesy mnhs.org)

Yesterday afternoon, after a score or more of worshipers in the church had left, a woman entered and went to the middle of the church. She lighted a candle, took off her shoes and tiptoed to the back of the church. Wilson and the sexton, who was keeping watch with the detective, said they saw her take a key from her pocketbook, unlock the box for contributions to the poor, take out the money and start back to get her shoes.

 

Wilson and the sexton hurried downstairs and arrested her as she was putting on her shoes. She had $1.44, which, they said, she had taken from the box. She gave her name as Alice Eastman. She lived in the University apartments, Fifteenth avenue and Fourth street southeast.

 
Said She Had Right to Money.
 

She told the police matron that she was poor and thought she had a right to the money in the box. This is the third time she has been arrested. Three years ago she was convicted of having broken into a desk in the First Baptist church. She was sent to the House of the Good Shepherd.

 

According to the police she was employed in the office of the board of education, marking examination papers of teachers. The rector of St. Anthony church reported to Captain Quealey that money had been missing from the poor box for several weeks.

 

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