The Lady and the Laces: 1904

A handy shoplifting suitcase.

A handy shoplifting suitcase.


Store Sleuths Tell of Shoplifting Wrinkle New to One of Them.

From the New York Sun.

This story is told among the department store sleuths of an alleged episode of this rush season. A man pushed into a crowded store, wiping his brow, and panted in the ear of one of the floor detectives:

“See that woman, George; the clever-looking one in the black dress?” indicating a woman who had just entered the store.

George saw her.

“Well,” said the perspiring stranger, “watch her; she’s the limit; she’s just come from our store. We know her; she’s been playing the game there for some time; she’ll load up like a pack horse if you give her a chance. I’ve piped her off all the afternoon, and have shadowed her up here. Watch her, I tell you.”

The woman in black approached a counter on which was a display of lace handkerchiefs, and, looking around cautiously, slipped about half a dozen of them under her cloak.

“What’d I tell you, George? Pipe her,” said the sleuth from the other store, as he nudged George in the ribs.

From the lace handkerchief counter the woman in black visited the silk hosiery counter, and then went to several others. At each she helped herself, generously and dexterously. George, with the other sleuth, followed at a convenient distance. The woman, when she started to leave the store, not only had a load under her loose-fitting cloak, but her pockets were bulging.

“Leave it to me, George. I know her game. I’ll get her for both of us,” said the visiting sleuth. “You stand here at the door.”

George stood at the door for five minutes. Then he went out into the cold world and is still looking for:

1: The woman.

2: The other sleuth.

3: A job.

The Washington [DC] Post 25 December 1904: p. A1

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: An ingenious little swindle, but, as noted, it probably can only be worked once per store before word of the “new wrinkle” spreads. Floor detectives in the big stores trade notes assiduously. Mrs Daffodil has written before about ingenious shoplifters who are “Prepared to Carry off the Store,” how they are spotted, their methods, and the different types of lady kleptomaniacs.

This Parisian shoplifter seems to have chosen a unique confederate:

Dog Trained to Steal

A woman was arrested in Paris for shoplifting not long ago, and it was noticed that she carried a bright looking King Charles spaniel on her arm. The police happened to examine the pup rather carefully, and were surprised to find that it was trained to help the woman at her trade. The dog was schooled to snatch a piece of lace in its mouth and then hide its head under the woman’s arm. Philadelphia [PA] Inquirer 22 October 1905: p. 3

One hopes that the woman thought to steal bones or treats for her faithful companion since he took all the risk.


Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.


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