Turkish Bond Robbery

Posted: September 17, 2009 in Inspector Frederick Abberline
From the Dunedin Star’s Correspondent.
LONDON, Jan. 8. – Considerable sensation was caused in the early part of last year by a series of daring burglaries on board the Channel steamers, the safes of which were in some mysterious was opened, and large parcels of valuable bonds stolen. A watch set by Detective-inspector Abberline (who will be remembered as running the dynamitards down) resulted in the arrest of certain men in France; but owing to some technical difficulty they could not be extradited, and, after being detained some months by the French authorities, were released. This greatly chagrined Abberline, who, however, as will be seen, did not lose heart. On Tuesday, at Marlborough street, he charged a financial agent named Frederick Peach, not with stealing the bonds, but with obtaining a loan of L890 on a parcel, well knowing them to be stolen property and stopped by the Ottoman Government.
Frederick Pemberton Peach is a burly, large-faced man with a big moustache. He looks as much like an inspector of police as the sleek, smooth-faced Inspector Abberline, who has had this big case in hand, looks unlike one. Mr. Wontner, who prosecuted, in his opening told an interesting story. If it is true, the respectable-looking financial agent of the Richmond Villa is a very great "financial agent" indeed. He was a member of the Primrose Club, and from there carried on part of the correspondence which led to Mr. Seers parting with his L890. From there he wrote to Mr. Seers, with whom he had had previous dealings, and to whom he owed L160, stating that a friend of his named Mr. Archibald Melville, who was about to be married, wanted an advance of L1,000 upon the security of twenty L100 Turkish bonds. This was on July 15 of last year. After negotiations with Peach, and also with the nominal borrower, Archibald Melville, the money was paid over to Peach, who handed to Mr. Seers the twenty bonds with attached coupons. These were placed at the bank. The notes paid to Peach included seven of L100 each. Most of these were afterwards found to have been changed by Peach himself. The fact that the bonds were stolen was ultimately discovered through the presentation of one of the coupons for payment at the Ottoman Bank. Then information was given to the Marine Insurance Company, who had been the losers by the original robbery, and they called in the suave Abberline, who went very artfully to work. He found that Peach and the so-called Archibald Melville had occupied a house together at Eastbourne; that Melville was not at the time about to be married, as he was already a married man with a family, and occupied a house at Richmond, close by Peach. One of the notes was traced to Brighton, where Abberline found it had been cashed by this Mr. Archibald Melville. "And we know he is respectable," Abberline was told, "because he was introduced to us by the wealthy Mr. Kotche. Then the detective was on the track, for the "wealthy Mr. Kotche" was already known to him in connection with another phase of this big bond robbery. Peach was arrested, but Melville somehow was missed, and has not yet been found. Mr. Wontner also said he should be able to prove guilty possession of the bonds on the part of Peach. For at his house in Richmond there were found in a cavity under the floor beneath a bed 2,300 of the stolen bonds, together with a quantity of correspondence with Melville, which threw light on this and other transactions. In connection with the robbery two men have already, it will be remembered, been convicted at Vienna. One of Abberline’s exploits in the investigation was to open a Gladstone bag deposited in the luggage office at Cannon street, discovering a large number of stolen bonds. The facts of the robbery were: – On 12th January, 1890, a parcel of Turkish Priority bonds and a small quantity of Mexican bonds were insured in Paris for L8,400 with the Marine Insurance Company, and despatched to a firm of brokers in London. They duly left by train on 11th January, and were placed on board the South Eastern Company’s steamer Mary Beatrice at Boulogne by the officials of the railway company. When, however, the safe where they should have been placed was examined, on the arrival of the boat on the English shore, two of the parcels, namely, those worth L8,400, were missing. From inquiries at Boulogne it was found that sundry persons had been seen to leave the steamer hurriedly. Similar robberies occurring in the month of March of last year, Chief-inspector Abberline was sent over to Boulogne to see if he could there recognise among the passengers arriving any persons known to him as reputed bond robbers. On April 8 he caused to be arrested by the French police four men whom he saw leaving the steamer Breeze. One of them – a man named Powell – who had been suspected for years as a bond robber, was found at the police office to be vigorously masticating something. A big French officer, seeing this, seized him by the jaws, and, forcing them open, took out of his mouth a mass of somewhat pulpy paper, which, when it had been carefully treated, turned out to be a cloak-room ticket for an article left at Victoria Station. In Powell’s hand another ticket was found, which related to a valise left at Dover. This valise contained sham bonds which, it was supposed, it was intended to replace by any genuine ones that might be stolen on the voyage. Upon one of the other men were found two keys, one of which fitted the locks of all the safes of the steamers of the fleet, it being a master-key, opening a large number of locks of different patterns. Another of the men was noticed to be apparently most diligently searching for an insect under his armpit. On his arm being withdrawn from his coat, and his coat being removed, however, a crushed wax impression of one of the keys of the Breeze was found to be the object of his diligence. The fourth man was found to be in possession of impressions of two other keys. Efforts were made to bring about the extradition of these men for larceny on a British vessel, but unsuccessfully, the French police contenting themselves with examining them, and, after detaining them for five months, turning them out of the country. The ticket of an article left at Victoria station had in the meantime been found to refer to a hat-box containing sixty-two of the coupons belonging to a part of the parcel of bonds stolen on 12th January. About the month of June Inspector Abberline thought it advisable to make inquiries at Cannon street station. On searching there he found a Gladstone bag, which had been lying in the cloak room from about the date of the robbery. Being able to open the bag without breaking the lock he examined it, and inside discovered a large number of the missing bonds. He then arranged with the railway police to be communicated with when anybody called for the bag. A woman called a day or two afterwards, and was told to come again. Instead of returning she telegraphed to ask them to send the bag to the Piccadilly office of the company. While awaiting the bag’s arrival at that office Inspector Abberline went into the Cafe Monico and there saw the woman in conversation with the man Powell and a man named Kotche, another suspected bond-robber. Kotche gave the woman something, and she went into the office, and on its arrival received the bag and drove with Kotche to the St. John’s Wood road station and left it there. They then went into a house in Carlton road, St. John’s Wood, where it was discovered by Inspector Abberline they were cohabiting. Inspector Abberline went in and interviewed them, when, the bag being sent for, they were surprised to find it empty. L2,000 worth of bonds were seized by the Vienna police in the possession of two men, who were subsequently sentenced to terms of imprisonment in consequence. These recovered bonds, with those found at Peach’s house, left only a few unaccounted for.
For Peach it was contended that he was simply the agent for Melville, and had no knowledge that the bonds had been stolen. Mr. Hannay remanded the prisoners, offering to accept bail in two sureties of L200 each.
Source: Tuapeka Times, Volume XXIV, Issue 1877, 9 March 1892, Page 5

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