Watch and Clock Crime



Because of their relatively large value in times past, they have attracted some thefts or attempts at theft. I have come across a number of cases

The Windsor and Eton Express 31st March 1937

Egham, March 31
Attempted Burglary

On Thursday morning between two and three o’clock Mr. Douglas, a watch-maker and jeweller in this town was awoke by a noise which appeared to proceed from his shop. He got up, and looking out of a window saw a man dressed apparently like a g[r]oom, at his shop shutters evidently attempting to break in. He demanded to know what the fellow wanted; the reply was "nothing, Sir;" however Mr. Douglas called to his wife to bring his gun, which being heard by the robber he made off before the gun could be brought, otherwise as Mr. D always keeps his gun loaded, in all probability the fellow would have paid dearly for his attempt. On going down the stairs and examining the shop window Mr. Douglas discovered that several pieces of one of the shutters had been forced off opposite to a square cut in one of the panes of glass, which cur it had been observed had been made some previous evening, when the shop was closed, - doubtless by the same thief, in anticipation of having the less trouble in inserting his hand into the shop window, as the piece of glass could with more ease, be knocked in, after the difficulty as to the shutter had been overcome. The fellow appeared to have been very clumsy in his dangerous avocation from the manner in which the pieces had been broken from the shutter, which had been done, not by a regular housebreaking implement , such as a centre bit of a "jemmy," but by what is called by carpenters, a spike bit; however from the progress he had made it was clear that a very few more minutes would have sufficed to enable him to grope about inside the window, where however he would have met with no reward for all his labour, as it is invariable practice of Mr. Douglas, to take all his valuable property from thence every night, and put it in a place of security. The robber can be identified by Mr. Douglas, who had a perfect view of him.

From the various robberies that have lately been committed in this neighbourhood, it is evident that a gang of fellows are forming for the purpose of carrying on their depredations. A few days ago a robbery was committed in the day-time, in a house in Englefield Green. A woman having charge of two houses in the absence of their usual occupiers , and living in one of them, went, as is her daily practice, to open a window of the other, for the purpose of airing the rooms, and on her return discovered that some thieves had entered the one she lived in, and stolen several articles. The fellows for the present have escaped detection. We think the attention of this parish ought to be directed to the necessity of organising a small police force, which is sadly wanted to protect their property. When the situation of the town is considered - it being on the Great Western road, and no great distance from the metropolis, branching off also in so many directions - it is surprising that property has no protection whatever from any police.

Court Case - Huntingdonshire Quarter Sessions 1838 (Case was 1837)                                    John Flanders accused by William Clarke of stealing a watch

The information and complaint of William Clark of Saint Ives in the said County taken on oath the 20th day of March 1837 before her Majesty’s justice of the peace for the said County.

Who on his oath saith I am a watchmaker living at Saint Ives aforesaid. On Monday afternoon last the 13th instant at three o’clock in the afternoon John Flanders of Warboys in the said County came into my shop to have his watch repaired which I immediately repaired for him - he then staid in the shop saying he was waiting for a brother who was in the town, he had been in about half an hour when I was sent for out. I went into the town leaving my brother Charles Clark with the said John Flanders in my shop. In about 10 minutes I was returning to my shop when I met my brother, who said a watch was missing and he had locked the door coming to look for me. I returned to the shop and found a watch when I had left my shop lying in the window was missing. I went to look for Flanders, but could not find him.  The next day Tuesday I went to Warboys and met Flanders in the town, I said to him I suspect you have my watch and I can prove it and if you don’t give it me I shall call you before a magistrate’. He said at first he knew nothing of it, but afterwards confessed he took it and had given it to his brother, because he had no watch.

The watch I now present is the one taken from myself and given up to me by the said John Flanders aforesaid and I charge him with taking the same of me

Signed William Clark


Taken and sworn before

Thomas Smith James Lister

Huntingdonshire to wit

21st March 1837 resumeth the said William Clark in the presence of John Flanders and at the time the said John Flanders declined to answer the said William Clark any questions.

Before me James Smith

Huntingdonshire to wit

Charles Clarke being sworn by me James Smith one of the justices of the peace in the presence of them from the 21st March 1837.  On  this saith ? ? of Nov  the prisoner John Flanders came into my brother’s shop in Saint Ives  about 3 o’clock in the afternoon. My brother repaired his watch which he returned him, and then left. I left the shop to go upstairs, the prisoner was alone in the shop, when I came down into the shop, I missed a watch from the window which hung up when I went upstairs. The prisoner was at the time still in the shop but I said nothing to him. He soon afterwards left, and I locked the shop door and went into town  to look for my brother and met him in Saint Ives street and told him what had happened. The watch now produced is the one I saw in the shop window.

Charles Clark

Taken down before me

James Smith

Huntingdonshire  to wit

the prisoner John Flanders being asked by me the said James Smith if he wishes to say anything to the charge and being sanctioned that whatever he say may be taken down in evidence against him on his trial for the felony say "I have nothing to more say only that Mr Clarke said if I could give him the watch ? and beg his pardon he would say nothing more about it, so fetched him the watch at Warboys and gave it him and did beg his pardon"

Newspaper clipping from unknown newspaper relating to theft of a watch from Clarke & Douglas, the Market Place Oundle

Left unknown and right Northampton Mercury 29.10.1926


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