Daring Burglary at Witham Jewellers

Essex Standard - Saturday October 29th 1887

Colchester, Saturday, October 29, 1887.


Early on Wednesday morning the shop of Messrs. C. and S. Finch, watchmakers and jewellers, of Witham, was broken into and watches and jewellery to the value of over £60 were stolen. The shop is situated in the centre of the High Street, immediately opposite the Post Office and between Mr. J. C. Sach's cabinet manufactory and the Co-operative Stores.

An entrance was effected by breaking a square of plate glass, and the watches were forcibly taken from the hooks, while cases of gold and silver rings were carried away. Mr. C. Finch, who lives on the premises, made sure that the doors, &c., were safely locked and bolted before retiring on Tuesday night. About 3.15 he was awakened by a loud crashing noise, as of glass breaking. He immediately went downstairs with a light and proceeded to the shop, but failed to see anything to arouse further suspicion.

There is a frame-work of mahogany, glazed, separating the window from the shop, and this would account for his not seeing that the window was disturbed. Having tried the doors and finding they were all fastened, he returned to bed again. Mr. and Mrs. Sach heard the noise, but did not take much notice of it, thinking it was caused by a mail cart leaving the Post Office. The gas [light] in the Post Office throws a bright light upon Mr. Finch's shop front, and it is supposed that the thief or thieves watched the Maldon and Braintree mails start at 3.15, and also saw that he police constable on duty in the street was safely out of hearing before they commenced their work.

Miss Gull, who was on night duty at the Post Office, had just turned down the lights and entered her room, when she heard a crashing of glass. She awoke Mr. Ashby, the postmaster, telling him she was certain someone had broken into the office. Arming himself with a cudgel, he went out and listened, but could hear nothing; he also walked as far as the corner of Guithavon Street, with our seeing or hearing anything to confirm his suspicions. 

The robbery was ultimately discovered by Mr. Walter Tyler, dairyman. Mr. Tyler was going to his dairy farm, shortly after four o'clock, when, on passing Mr. Finch's shop, he saw three shutters lying across the footpath and a sheet of plate-glass smashed.

He at once called Mr. Finch. Several watches and one or two rings were lying on the footpath. The shutter bar had bee forced from its staple, and three of the shutters removed. The glass is about three eighths of an inch in thickness, and fell upon a flagstone immediately beneath, which would account for the crash that was heard. P.c Cowell had been on duty all night in the neighbourhood, and had visited Newland Place, a passage running between Mr. Finch's house and Mr. Sach's, and satisfied himself that no one was there. He then walked towards the Police Station, and left there at about 3.20. Immediately afterwards Supt. Allen and P.c. Marden drove into the Station, and Marden was at the top of Guithavon Street when M. Finch and Mr. Tyler discovered what had taken place. He at once sent Mr. Tyler to inform Superintendent Allen of the robbery, and then called P.c. Amos, who lives next the Post Office.

In a very short time the news of the robbery was wired to all the Stations in Essex, while constables were despatched in every direction.

Mr Finch has missed the following articles:- One gold watch, 23 silver watches, 24 gold keeper rings, 16 gold wedding rings, one gold Albert chain, and 14 silver rings.

During Wednesday morning it was discovered that the thieves had entered the small back yard some little distance from the house, had scaled the wall, about eight feet high, had gone across the garden of a house lately occupied by Col. Foster, through Mr. William King's garden, and into the Park, leaving a pair of steps standing against the park fence on the inside. No clue has at present been obtained of the depredators. Great sympathy has been expressed with Mr. Finch in his loss. One of the stolen watches belonged to a customer.

During the day the police found a morocco case in which the rings had been exhibited and a silver ring in the garden.