28 February 2013

Treasure Chest Thursday: Burglar Suspects Nabbed by Sleuths


Detectives Trail Two Men on
Street and Capture Them
in Woman's House.

Mrs. Anna Liebross Says They
Tried to Rob Her.

    Detectives Chas. Byer and James McCormick were on the steps of the Gates avenue police station yesterday afternoon, when they saw two young men pass by.
    "Those birds don't look good to me; let's follow them," remarked Byers.
    Trailing the men for eight blocks, they noticed them peering into standing automobiles, as though looking for valuables.
    The sleuths them saw them mount the steps of a private house at 280 Stuyvesant avenue and ring the bell. There was no response to the ring and the suspects took keys from their pockets, the detectives say, and entered the house, leaving the door open behind them. Byer and McCormick followed and secreted themselves in the hallway. They watched the two men make their way to the second floor of the house and soon heard the jingling of keys.
    "Help! Police!" came a woman's voice. Downstairs dashed the two men and the detectives seized them. They took them to the woman upstairs, Mrs. Anna Liebross, who identified them and said that they had tried to rob her.
    The men described themselves as Joseph Schmitt, 24 years old, a laborer, of 47 Herbert street, Maspeth, and Anthony Evans, 21, a driver, of 226 Manhattan avenue. The detectives searched the prisoners and say that they found sixty keys attached to a leather strap. On Schmitt, it is said,were found thirty-one pawn tickets for clothing and household articles pledged in various Brooklyn pawnshops under the names of "Jones" and "Cohen."
    The men will be taken before Magistrate McGuire to-day in Gates avenue police court on charges of attempted burglary. 

This 27 November 1920 publication is the second time I've located a newspaper article with one of my relatives as victim of a criminal. Anna Liebross was, at the time, the wife Max. Their address at 280 Stuyvesant Avenue, Brooklyn, would have been across the street from his parents and siblings at 291 Stuyvesant Avenue. [2] When this event occurred, they had three children: Rose, Harold and Gertrude. In 1923 they would have a fourth: Morris. Sometime after that, Max left his family. Daughter Rose died in 1928. [3]

Reading this article and knowing the difficult life that Anna lived, I am relieved that the thieves were caught so quickly and without further incident.

1. The Standard Union (Brooklyn, NY), 27 November 1920, page 6, column 7; digital images, Old Fulton, New York Postcards (http://www.fultonhistory.com: accessed 8 January 2013).   
2. 1920 U.S. Census, Kings County, New York, population schedule, Brooklyn, Enumeration District 294, sheet 13A, dwelling 173, family 271, Louis Liebross; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 18 January 2012).
3. Kings County, New York, Certificate of Death no. 16457 (31 July 1928), Rose Liebross, New York City Municipal Archives, New York.  


  1. Thanks for your post today, which encourages me to move Fulton website searches higher on my research plan: my mother told several stories about her mother foiling attempted robberies at her candy store in NYC, which would've occurred in 1920's-30's; perhaps these made it to newspaper also!

  2. Thanks for your comment, Nancy! Fulton is a great site. I always have to remind myself to check back periodically (literally and figuratively :-) since the owner is often adding new content.

    The other thing to make sure to do is check his instructions page. He suggests some search parameters/syntax that may be helpful if you get too many results.

  3. I wonder what my grandmother Anna did to make the burglars run from her. Probably just looking for items to pawn, not to rob. This confirms my recollection that Max and Anna were still together when my DAd was 5 years old. My brother thought my Dad was three years old. So Murray was 8 years younger, not two. Thanks for finding the answers.

  4. Diana (NYer): Well, Census records and newspapers often make mistakes. We'd probably want to confirm this info with some other sources. I'll look around a bit more.


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