Victorian London - Crime - Thieves - robbers of children's possessions 

At the Thames Police-court, Elizabeth Brewer of 1, James-place, North-street, Poplar, was charged on remand with stealing a pair of boots, valued at 5s., from the feet of a child named John Spencer, whose parents are living at 50, Stainsby-road, Bromley. On the 25th of last month the child, who is only six years old, was passing along Narrow-street, Limehouse, when the prisoner bribed him with a penny to allow her to pull off his boots, with which she immediately decamped. A young man named Joseph Hirons of No.15 Sidney-place, Commercial-road, saw the boy crying, ascertained what had happened and which way the woman had gone, and immediately pursued her with the boy in his arms, came up with her, and found the boots under her shawl. He gave her into custody. On her way to the station-house with a police-constable named Hart, No.154 K, she tore up three pawn brokers' tickets and threw the fragments away. She stated on her first examination that she was in want of food, and had applied for admission to Poplar workhouse and been refused. She must either rob or starve. It was now stated by Inspector Beare, of the K division, that there was not a word of truth in the prisoner's statement, and that she was an incorrigible thief. There were several summary convictions recorded against her and she was once convicted at the sessions and sentenced to nine months' imprisonment and hard labour. Several children had been very recently robbed of their clothes in the same locality as the child Spencer, and by a woman answering the appearance of the prisoner, but he could not bring the children because they were so young. Mr. Paget committed the prisoner for trial.

Times, June 2, 1866

Seven years penal servitude to be followed by an equal term of police surveillance, was meted out to Elizabeth Townsend , at the Surrey Sessions for the systematic plundering of children in the streets. The prisoner resided at Kennington-oval, and it was proved that she was in the habit of making excursions nightly with the purpose  of decoying little children into courts and alleys and then stripping them of their clothes or robbing them of whatever else they possessed. She had been several times previously convicted.

Illustrated London News, January 11th, 1873