Clever Capture of a Coggeshall Thief

Essex Standard 14th November 1851

Friday, November 14, 1851

Police constables Smith and Oakley, stationed at Great Coggeshall, last week succeeded in capturing in an ingenious manner a man named Thomas Beckwith, of Rivenhall, who has lately been involved in several robberies in his own neighbourhood, and against whom the above police held a warrant, on a charge of having obtained two watches under false pretences from Mr. James Bennett, watchmaker, of Coggeshall, belonging to Challice and Burton, two labourers living at Kelvedon.

The desperado, who has eluded the search of the police for some time, was taken by means of the following artifice:- The officers put on the dress and affected appearance of distressed labourers, and, with a few boxes of Lucifer matches for sale, to sanction their vagrancy, visited house after house in which there was a probability of finding the object of their search.

At length policeman Smith made the lucky hit, for on tendering his matches at the door of a cottage he met with Beckwith, to whom he was not slow in disclosing his true character and (to the man's utter astonishment) in making sure of him as his prisoner. On Thursday, the 6th inst., the prisoner was taken before the Rev. H. Du Cane at Witham, and remanded for a week, when it is likely several charges of felony will be brought against him. 

Every credit is due to the officers who have some cleverly effected the prisoner's apprehension.