Burglar Bitten By A Skeleton

The Illustrated Police News was, in many ways, ahead of its time in the way in which it brought some truly sensational stories to its readers on a weekly basis.

Indeed, reading through its pages, you really do see the genesis of some of our modern day tabloids and, it has to be said, some of the stories it chose to cover would put even The National Enquirer to shame!

So, for today’s blog, I thought I’d delve into its pages and bring you one of my favourite stories, one that appeared in its edition of Saturday June 27th 1874.

A BURGLAR BITTEN BY A SKELETON

An illustration of the burglar being bitten by the skeleton.
The Illustrated Police News Illustration. Copyright, The British Library Board.

THE ARTICLE

“A Skeleton in the closet is not generally considered a pleasant thing to have, but a recent occurrence in Greensburg, America, shows that it may sometimes answer a good purpose.

We learn from the Philadelphia Medical Times that a burglar broke into a physicians office in that town, and opening a closet (whilst his companion with a dark lantern was in another part of the room), got his hands between the jaws of a skeleton, which being adjusted with a coil spring and kept open with a thread, closed suddenly on the intruding hand by the breaking of the thread.

HE FELL TO THE FLOOR

Startled at being thus seized, he uttered a faint shriek, and when his companion turned the lantern towards him, and beheld himself in the grim and ghastly jaws of Death himself, he became so overpowered by fear that he fainted; and fell insensible to the floor, pulling the skeleton down upon him, and making so much noise, that his companion fled immediately.

SECURED BY THE DOCTOR

The doctor, alarmed at the noise and confusion, hastened into the room, and secured the terror-stricken burglar, still held by the skeleton.

BURGLARS BEWARE!

Burglars, who may have a design upon the tranquillity of any of our households, will take warning by the unhappy fate which¬†befell one of their “comrades in arms” in a doctor’s study on the other side of the Atlantic.”