‘A Park Bench and A Bogus Policeman’

Like today, thieves of yesteryear had some pretty creative ways of getting what they wanted. Take, for instance, the man who impersonated a park police officer for some easy cash in February 1897 Baltimore.

It happened when Harry Crooks — the son of a police officer — was sitting on a park bench in Druid Hill Park with a young lady one Sunday evening. A man dressed in a gray suit came up to the couple and told them they would be arrested for disorderly conduct, “… charging that he saw Mr. Crooks hug the lady,” according to an account in The Baltimore Sun.

“Mr. Crooks was at first indignant, but the lady became frightened and then the policeman said the fine for the would be twenty dollars and costs each, or over $40 in all,” according to the newspaper. “Later the man said that the notoriety of their arrest would be very unpleasant for them, and that if he were given one-half the total amount he would let them go.”

In the end, Crooks gave him $22 and some change, and the man left. Crooks reported the incident to the police.

That hug — if it happened — was an expensive one!

Source: The Baltimore Sun, February 16, 1897

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