In December 1891, the newspapers had a field day with a case that came up at Marylebone Police Court, at which Henry Mead was charged with having burgled the house of Mr and Mrs Walter at 12, Randolph-road, Maida-hill.
It wasn’t so much the crime that caught the imagination of the press, but rather the circumstances under which the intrepid Mead was caught:-
The Coventry Evening Telegraph covered the story on Wednesday 9th December 1891:-
BACON AND EGGS FOR THE BURGLAR
Early yesterday morning a police inspector observed a light moving about in a house in Randolph Road, Maida Vale, in a manner which excited his suspicion.
He obtained the assistance of other policemen, who surrounded the house, and he then rang up the occupier of the premises.
On examination, it was found that a burglar had entered the house by climbing up the pipe to the lavatory window, and that, after ransacking the place, the thief had treated himself to a supper of bacon and eggs, which he cooked over a gas stove.
A man named Henry Mead was found in the scullery and was arrested.
He was remanded yesterday at the Marylebone Police Court on the charge of burglary.
A BURGLAR OF GREAT PROMISE
The Globe, in its edition of Wednesday the 9th of December, found the episode irresistible and published the following very tongue-in-cheek article about the culinary exploits of Henry Mead:-
Burglars, it will appear, are falling victims to the luxurious customs of the day, and their profession suffers very seriously from the desire to “sup before they go,” like Greedy Nan in the Nursery Rhyme.
Mr. Henry Mead, a burglar of great talent and promise, having broken into a house in Maida Vale, and arranged such valuables as seemed to be suitable for export, yielded to this untimely appetite and regaled himself with sherry, and a dish of eggs and bacon, which he cooked over the gas stove.
He made himself so comfortable and was so loth to return to the business in hand that he was surprised in his feast the police.
Had he only been content with egg-flip and had left the bacon alone, might have found time to save his own as well as that of his hosts.
A BON VIVANT BURGLAR
The West Somerset Free Press, on Saturday 12 December 1891, had this to say about the case:-
Henry Mead, an enterprising burglar, is also something of bon vivant, and his weakness for a “good feed ” has got him into trouble.
He had successfully “burgled” a house in Maida Vale, and had packed together a miscellaneous assortment unconsidered trifles with a view to their immediate transport, and might have got away with his booty.
But appetite intervened.
There was sherry, and, as drinking without taking food at the same time is generally condemned by the medical faculty, Mead cooked some bacon and eggs by means of a gas stove, and laid himself out to enjoy himself.
It was in the midst of this delicate repast that he was surprised and arrested by a policeman, and the probability is that he will be a stranger to bacon and eggs for some months to come.
THE BURGLAR’S BREAKFAST
The Illustrated Police News, on Saturday 19th December 1891, published a fairly detailed article on how Mead had been apprehended:-
At Marylebone Police Court, a young man of determined appearance, who gave his name as Henry Mead, was charged with burglariously breaking and entering 12, Randolph-road, Maida-hill, and stealing a marble clock and three overcoats, valued at £10, the property of Mr. Philip Walter, a merchant.
Inspector Newlands and Sergeant Stephenson noticed suspicious signs in the prosecutor’s house, and, having taken necessary precautions to prevent the escape of burglars, rang the bell three or four times.
FOUND IN THE SCULLERY BASEMENT
When Mr. Walter was aroused and opened the front door they together entered the dining room and found the gas alight.
All the cupboards were open, and the place was strewn with books and papers.
In the scullery in the basement, he found the prisoner, who was at once told he would be arrested on a charge of burglary.
HOW HE GOT IN
It was discovered that an entrance had been effected by the prisoner climbing on to a party wall at the rear of the premises, on the top of which he placed a garden table, and standing thereon he got hold of a stack-pipe and climbed up it to the sill of the lavatory window.
HE HAD THOROUGHLY ENJOYED HIMSELF
There was evidence that the prisoner had been thoroughly enjoying himself, for in the scullery were an empty plate, a knife and fork, and the remains of a bottle of sherry, which had been abstracted from the cellarette. (Laughter.)
The prisoner had been feasting on eggs and bacon, which he had cooked on a gas stove. (Renewed laughter.)
MADE HIMSELF COMFORTABLE
He had evidently made himself comfortable, for he had taken a chair and table into the scullery, and, in order to prevent taking cold while he enjoyed himself, he had folded double an old sack, which he laid on the stone floor to rest his feet upon. (Loud laughter.)
The coats had been taken from the hall and were found in the scullery.
The clock was on the breakfast-room table was ready to be taken away.
The magistrate remanded the prisoner.