POLICE ARREST CROOK
Veteran "Pennyweighter" Taken Into Custody by St. Louis Detective While Attempting Theft
St. Louis, Mo., Oct. 7.—Employes of the Mermod-Jaccard Jewelry Co. last Friday afternoon captured Charles W. Eldridge, 61 years old, as he was departing from the store with a silver sugar bowl and cream pitcher valued at $119.50, taken from a shelf in the show case. He told detectives, they say, that he had been a "pennyweighter" for 21 years.
Eldridge had the cream pitcher under his coat and when he was stopped by Charles H. Bittner, one of the clerks, he held the bowl behind his back, remarking to Bittner, "Here's what you are looking for," and holding out the pitcher in the other hand.
As Bittner turned him around to examine more closely, he saw the bowl in the hand behind the man's back and called the house detective, who took Eldridge to police headquarters.
"I should have stuck to 'hoops' (rings)," Eldridge said after his arrest, in admitting the theft of the silver. "Jugs and bowls are not in my line, but everything else was locked up and I took a chance."
"I got away with it for 21 years and only had one visit in the 'big house,'" he said, indicating he had served but one penitentiary sentence.
Eldridge gave the detectives his name as "West" until he was recognized from Bertillon records. Then he talked freely. He said he had come to St. Louis with his wife six months ago and had got along all right until a physician with whom he had dealings shut down on his prescriptions for morphine. He said he went to the jewelry store to get something on which to raise money for the drug. The upright showcase in which the silverware was kept was open and he helped himself.
Detectives later visiting a room at 4152 Delmar boulevard, where Eldridge said he had been living under the name of West, recognized the woman there who said she was "Mrs. May West" as May Watson, classed in the Bertillon records as a "panel worker" who the police say had not been seen in St. Louis since just before the World's fair, when the underworld district flourished here. She renewed acquaintance with some of the old-time policemen at headquarters.
She said since leaving St. Louis she had been arrested in several cities, including Boston, where, she said, she was held in connection with a $10,000 diamond robbery. She said she was never prosecuted because the case was "squared."
Source: The Jewelers' Circular - 13th October 1920