Cornhill Magazine,  7 (1863), 79–92.

The Science of Garrotting and Housebreaking

[Henry W Holland]



Relevant illustrations:

wdct. [7]


Crime, Expertise, Invention, Chemistry

    Drawing on what the author has 'learned amongst burglars and garrotters in my prison ministrations', relates how the 'garrotte system of robbery' was at first 'a scientific operation, abundantly cruel, but not absolutely murderous; the intention was neither to kill nor to maim', but has now been 'imitated by bungling ruffians more dangerous even than the original practitioners' (79). Also details the housebreaker's continual 'invention' of 'fresh means' by which the skill of the 'locksmith [can] be circumvented'. Now, however, the capacity of the burglar's ingenious 'instrument[s]' to open locks has been 'met by a certain improvement in the "detector lock" of Mr. Chubb'. (84) The 'box-makers, and not the box-breakers, have the advantage at present; and now the hope and dream of these latter is that some one will invent a chemical preparation capable of fretting a lock away or consuming an iron door' (87).

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