Pilfering children

Hertfordshire Mercury, 2nd October 1915


At Ware Children’s Court on Tuesday, Harry Blakes (12) and May Blakes (14), of Black Swan Yard, Ware, were summoned for stealing potatoes.  P.S. Firth said that, on September 9th at 7.20 p.m., he was walking across Ware brickfield, when he saw someone in a potato field that was in the occupation of Mr Odell.  On going there, he saw the two defendants in the field.  There was a perambulator, with a baby in it, by the side of the field.  The witness lifted the baby out of the perambulator and thus found the potatoes then produced, which amounted to about three pecks.  The witness asked the defendants to account for being in possession of the potatoes and they said that some more children had had some.  Some distance away, in the field, were four sacks with further potatoes in them.

Mr W. G. Odell said that he had left 3.5 cwt. of potatoes in the field on Monday, September 6, but that on the following Thursday all but about two bushels had gone.  The witness valued the potatoes which were the subject of this charge at 2 shillings.  The mother of the two children said she had a large family, but had never had any trouble with them before.

The Clerk said that at every Court they had children brought up and charged with stealing beans, apples, or potatoes, which were then taken home, and that the parents knew it.  The Chairman said that the Bench must do something to stop it.  The children would be put under probation for twelve months, and have to report, themselves, each month to the Probation Officer.  The Chairman added that he would speak to the schoolmasters of the two children and see if they could do something to impress upon the children the wrong that such a thing was causing.  The father of the children would be fined 9 shillings.

The Clerk also remarked that parents were in great danger, in such cases, of being charged with receiving stolen property.

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