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diamonds.jpgIn 1922, York resident Herbert M. Rothery was 64 years old and at the top of his profession. His work was well-known in Europe, although nobody knows it was Rothery. Rothery was a jewel thief, in fact, newspaper reports called him the “Dean of Diamond and Jewelry Thieves.”

The York Dispatch noted that Rothery “is known not alone to the police of the United States, but has for years been sought by the authorities of the European continent. In England, where he once escaped from the Marlborough prison, his record is known to Scotland Yard and for years he was sought, without success, by the London metropolitan police.”

His escape from Marlborough prison was made in 1892, and he remained at large in Europe after that. He continued stealing and making good his escapes. He was feared because his targets were usually expensive hauls, and his getaways were clean.

“Men of Scotland Yard and continental police came to recognize Rothery’s work through it thoroughness and the absolute lack in any case of any definite trace or clue to the identity of the perpetrator of the crime,” the newspaper reported.

Rothery had a police record that dated back to 1886, according to an article in The Jeweler’s Circular. He fine-tuned his skills in Europe until his work was feared for its effectiveness and respected for it professional manner.

The York Dispatch also noted further evidence of Rothery’s success as a thief, writing, “Rothery bears evidence of prosperity, wears expensive clothing and has a distinguished air.”

Then he disappeared from Europe and never returned.

He began stealing again in the United States, but these were smaller jobs and sloppier. Now in his 60s, his skills may have been fading.

Although he was caught and imprisoned several times, he managed to escape despite extra precautions being taken. One of his techniques was to effect a disguise by dying his hair, goatee, and mustache.

He came to live in York for reasons unknown. He roomed with a family on Philadelphia Street near Pine Street. From York, he would make out-of-town trips for days and sometimes weeks, always returning.

“While he was living quietly in York last year, detectives believe, Rothery was planning big jewel and diamond robberies which, because of his arrest in Baltimore, he never got the opportunity to execute,” The York Dispatch reported.

He was arrested in 1919 in Baltimore after selling stolen jewelry to a fence. He was released on bail, but when his case came to trial, Rothery didn’t show, and by that time, he had also left York. He was finally arrested again while in St. Louis in 1922.

At that time, he was wanted in Syracuse, N. Y., for jumping bail; Washington, D. C. for jumping bail; Baltimore for escape; Ft. Madison, Iowa, for escape; Cincinnati for robbery; Buffalo, N. Y. for robbery; Sioux City, Iowa, for robbery; New Orleans for robbery; Denver for escaping from a cop after being charged with assault to kill; Atlanta for robbery; Omaha, Neb., for robbery; and Richmond for robbery.

“For many years he has been recognized as one of the most dangerous thieves operating against the jewelers of the country,” The Jeweler’s Circular noted.

The article also said that he was able to continually make bail because he had “powerful friends in New York and Chicago” who were willing to pay it when needed.

Once the extradition claims were sorted out, Rothery, who also went by the alias Henry McClelland, was sent back to Baltimore where he was sentenced to four years in the Maryland State Penitentiary there.

His luck had finally run out, and his long career had come to an end.

 

 

 

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