Raffles the Amateur Clothes Thief

This story in the 24 May 1870 edition of the Islington Gazette repays close reading, because it shows a journalist's conscience fighting with their sense of fun. Conscience wins on points.

'Daring Burglary'

The opening paragraph is dry.

'A daring burglary took place on the morning of Wednesday last, between the hours of three and four o'clock, at the house of Mr Swales, tailor, Hornsey-Road. 

The second paragraph has the clunky verbosity special to police reports. 

The thieves effected an entrance at the back kitchen windows, and succeded in making off with the contents of the shop, consisting of a quantity of woolen goods, several coats, vests, jackets, etc., besides several items belonging to the family from the parlour. 

Then the mask slips,

What makes the affair the more surprising is that the robbery took place in broad daylight, and was witnessed by a watchman and a lamplighter, who both saw a pony and truck draw up to the shop door, and also two men emerge from the house with a large sack, place it in the truck and drive away.

and slips some more. He's practically high-fiving the thieves by now.

Great surprise has been felt that they should succeed in getting clear away at that time in the morning without detection. 

Then guilt sets in.

The police are using their utmost vigilance in endeavouring to discover the perpetrators of so daring a robbery, and it is hoped they will succeed in bringing them to justice, as the loss is of a very serious nature to the owner.'

Incidentally, someone really should reprint the Raffles stories. They're a deliciously subversive queer take on Holmes/Watson. E.W. Hornung (who wrote them) was A.C. Doyle's brother in law. I do wonder if Doyle was in on the joke. 
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