On March 24th 1911, a remarkable burglary occurred at Ware Grammar school for Girls. Albert Elgood, a boot clicker, sneaked into the school through an unlatched window. He stole a gold watch, a silver chain, a bronze medal and some money before he was detected.
Miss Hulton (an assistant mistress) was woken around 4 o’clock in the morning by the sound of footsteps on the stairs. She immediately got up, peered out her door and saw the shadowy figure of the burglar standing half-way down the stairs.
Not wanting to raise the household as there was a very sick girl upstairs, Miss Hulton whispered to the man “Who are you?”
The burglar gruffly told her to go back to bed, but Miss Hulton coolly stood her ground and told him to go downstairs. She did not dare approach him, lest he should be armed. However the burglar, quite astonishingly, obeyed her request.
Miss Hulton followed him at a distance to the ground floor of the house. When she was half-way down the last flight of stairs, the man asked her to come down and let him out.
Miss Hulton requested that he stay where he was while she went upstairs to turn on the light. He agreed, and with the light on Miss Hulton met the burglar. He whispered secretively “Look here, Miss : hush ! not a word. I’m a burglar. I want you to let me out.” and they shook hands.
The man then sat down calmly and put on his boots, while Miss Hulton, equally tranquil, asked him to please go quietly as there was an invalid in the school. He promised to do so, and the house slept on undisturbed.
Miss Hulton asked him how he had got in and they walked down the corridor looking for his entry point. However he couldn’t remember exactly and so Miss Hulton let him out the front door, again promising not to rouse the house to allow him to get away.
Miss Hulton watched him out the gate and then bolted the door. She then proceeded to search the house for where the burglar got in, and found some unfastened windows in a classroom where entry might have been possible.
By now it was nearing 5 o’clock, so she dressed, determined to report the break in to the police. She met a policeman on her way to the station, who took her to tell her story to Superintendent Reed. He immediately sent Constables on bicycles to search for the criminal and spread word of the robbery via telephone. The Superintendent then returned to the school with Miss Hulton and they discovered that certain valuables were missing.
At 6.15 a.m. Inspector Sullivan apprehended a suspicious looking man in Hoddeson, but allowed him to continue on his way after questioning him. Fifteen minutes later, when news of the robbery reached the him, he set off on his bicycle in hot pursuit.
The Inspector caught the man near Haileybury College with the stolen property upon him and took him to the police station.
The man was questioned, admitted to entering the property without permission and stealing, but craftily denied breaking in. “No articles or housebreaking implements were found showing that I broke into the place and as the charge against me is of breaking and entering I shall say I am not guilty of the act of breaking.”
Also, the money the burglar admitted to stealing could not be included in the charge as no one could identify it. The prisoner was then committed for trial at the Hertford Assizes in June.