Transported for Seven Years, November Sessions, 1810, at the Old Bailey for Shoplifting
THE treacherous species of theft commonly called "shop-lifting" had at this time spread into provincial places of trade. In London it had long been a favourite mode of plunder among abandoned females. In order to carry on their depredations, a conspiracy was formed of two or more abandoned women, who, well dressed, went together into shops and, while one bargained and paid for some small articles, the others secreted whatever they could lay their hands upon. In general they were provided with long cloaks, large pockets and wide petticoats, wherein they concealed their plunder.
Mary Jones and Elizabeth Paine stood indicted for privately stealing, on the 30th of October, 1809, twelve pairs of stockings, the property of Robert Kenyon, a hosier, on Holborn Hill. The value of the goods was four pounds eighteen shillings. It appeared, from the testimony of Robert Kenyon, that the women were in the shop on the 30th of October; they were cheapening flannel, and went away after buying some trifle. On their leaving the shop he missed the parcel of stockings, which was hung on a chair near where the women were, but found the invoice which he had tucked into the parcel. He instantly pursued the women, and found them at a shop window in Holborn looking at some paper, and tearing something by the light of the shop. He charged them with having his stockings They denied it, and he proceeded to push them into the shop, when a gentleman gave him a parcel of stockings which he said one of the women had dropped.
The common serjeant, after a suitable admonition to the prisoners on the heinousness of their offence, and the subsequent aggravation of it by their conduct, assured them that it was a great stretch of the jury's humanity that they were not capitally convicted. In order -- as well as to punish them -- to deter all others who might be pursuing the same courses, the Court sentenced them to transportation for seven years.