• Belfast Between The Wars

LOCKED IN OWN YARD: BELFAST TRADER TRICKED; £17 ABSTRACTED FROM THE TILL

Belfast Telegraph, Friday 11th March 1932


After locking the proprietor in his own yard a robber rifled the till of a Belfast shop on Thursday afternoon and carried off a cashbox containing £17.


The shop was that of Mr. J. B. Milliken, stationer and newsagent, 3 St. Enoch’s Buildings, Clifton Street, and the man lured him out to the yard by requesting him to flush an out-office at the rear as it was believed to have rendered a stoppage in the sewers of the adjoining premises.


Mr. Milliken gave a dramatic account of the affair to a “Telegraph” representative when interviewed in his shop later in the afternoon. He described the robber as between 25 and 30 years of age, of medium build, and respectably dressed. He gave the impression of being an official from the agents of the property adjoining, and his manner was so disarming that Mr. Milliken immediately proceeded to comply with his request. He got a bucket of water, and, preceded by the man, went towards the yard. The man fumbled at the latch of the back door, but, as it was locked, Mr. Milliken reached past him, and released the catch, the man then opening the door, and standing back to allow him to emerge first.


“Hardly had I got out,” said Mr. Milliken, “when I heard the door slam behind me, and the bolts crashing home I realised then that I had been the victim of trickery, but I was powerless to do anything except shout and make a noise with the hope of attracting the neighbours. When I perceived that my cries were not being heard, I clambered up on the yard window, and eventually succeeded in attracting the attention of Mr. Smyth, the tenant of the shop adjoining, by rattling a handful of gravel against his windows. He at once saw that something serious was the matter, and, entering my shop by the front entrance, unbarred the back door, and released me. But, of course, by this time the man had gone, and I found the till lying open, and the cash-box, which had contained £17 in notes, missing. Some coppers had also been taken from the counter.”


Mr. Milliken added that the same man had come into his shop earlier in the day, and had purchased a packet of cigarettes, tendering a £1 note in payment. Apparently his cupidity had been aroused when he saw the contents of the cash-box from which Mr. Milliken had given him his change.”