from The Providence Daily Journal, 24 Dec 1877,
| A Thriving Business.
Arrest of a Professional Shop Lifter, A Bushel of Stolen Goods Recovered.
Saturday afternoon about 4 o'clock Officer Parker noticed a woman in the Boston store whome he thought would bear watching. He suspected she stole some neckties there, but he wasn't certain, so her followed her. She next visited Ladd & Davis's, and there he saw her surreptitiously take a small Japanese umbrella. Then he was sure she was stealing, but he wanted to watch her a little longer.
She was working pretty shrewdly. She had on a shawl which entirely concealed her arms, and her plan was to walk briskly into the store and along by the counter, with her shawl covering a portion of the counter, quickly catch up something under her shawl and drop it into a satchel she carried in the other hand, and then go out, remaining in the store scarcely half a minute. She next went into Crosby, Edwards Co.'s and took a pair of gloves. Then into the Boston Grocery and added some figs, ginger snaps, &c., to her collection. Then into Warren & Wood's where a shina doll, a cup and a match case found their way into her satchel. Then, as if she had got all she could comfortably carry at once, she went away through Mathewson street.
The officer thought this had gone far enough, and overhauled her on Mathewson street, where he asked her if she hadn't some things in her satchel that she forgot to pay for. She was very indignant, but that didn't work. He examined the satchel and found there all the articles above spoken of and more. He found three sets of sleeve buttons, a set of coral ear rings and breat pins, two veils, a table mat, and a fine and a coarse comb, all which she acknowledged stealing at the Boston Store, and some other things it isn't known where she did steal.
She was taken to the Central Station, and yesterday morning pleaded guilty to four warrants, for stealing from the Boston Store, Crosby, Edwards & Co., Ladd & Davis and Warren & Wood, but sentence was deferred that the case might be investigated, as the officers were of the opinion that she was a professional shop-lifter. She gave her name as Anna J. Nash.
Yesterday afternoon Officer Parker and Detective Swan visited her residence on Pawtucket Plains in company with her, and there their suspicions that she was a professional shoplifter were confirmed. Her her trunk were nearly a dozen silk neckties of different colors, quite a number of silk and linen handkerchiefs, fancy soaps, half a peck of spools of thread, a large quantity of needles, some hairpins, several Russia leather pocketbooks, three shawls that had been worn a very little, some copies of the New Testament, quite a number of pieces of cloth, and other things too numerous to mention. Most of these things had not been undone since they came from the store, and were put away in the original packages.
The woman acknowledged having stolen some of them from different places, but not all. The officers brought away nearly a bushel of the stolen fruit, which they believed were stolen in this city, though there were some they think were stolen in Boston, and indeed, they believe she worked more in Boston than in this city.
The officers also made another discovery, viz.: that her name is Jennie Washburn, instead of the one she gave Saturday. While they were there a man named Washburn arrived, who claimed to be her husband, and who said they had been married about five years. It appears she was formerly the wife of a lieutenant in a Massachusetts regiment who was killed in the service, and on whose account she has drawn a pension, and to continue to draw a pension she has kept this marriage secret. Any how, they have been living as man and wife, and are known as such.
She is about 38 years of age, and, it is said, owns a house in Boston. They formerly lived on Ives street in this city, and moved from there to East Providence. In this connection, it may be stated that there has been less shoplifting in this city during the busy ?? trade than usual, owing to the vigilance of the officers.