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Stealing Little Ones

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Away back in the dark ages when clvillzatlon was slow in coming and : t the barbarities of the vlcious members t of the human family made innocent i ) people shudder, there were organized ' bands of ruffians who made it a part of their business to kidnap children i and sometimes grown persons, and hold them ïintil various sums of ; ey were extorted from the agonized i parents or friends. Of course children : were their favorite prey, as they were i more easlly kept and could not escape j without assistance. Terrified into lence, shut up in some interior i ment of a building, or concealed in a cave, many a child has dragged out a wretched existence, frightened, neglected and at last murdered or thrown into dens of vice if the demands of the kidnappers were not complied with. Since the time when Charley Ross sö suddenly and mysteriously passed out of knowledge, but few attempts have been made to disturb the quiet of American households in this way. But of late the disposition to extort money in this manner has seemed to be growing, and, in spite of themselves, American parents are feeling more or less concerned because of the dangers that menace their little ones. There is no punishment severe enough for the villain who snatches a child from the heart of a quiet and unsuspecting family. There is a moral and emotional phase to such an act that is by no means met if the miserable wretch ends his life at the hands of a justly enraged mob. There is that, however, in the alertness of the American mind that makes it somewhat difflcult for acts of this sort to go unpunished. It is not the easiest thing in the world for men of the sort who do deeds of this kind to escape detection. Such things might have been possible when the country was new and sparsely settled, and when there were unbroken forests an unexplored-, caverns all about the great hills that environ some of our eastsrn cities. But the habit of observation Is very strong in the average Yankee, and any unusual action or appearance is quite likely to be observed or commented on. There are towns in the vicinity of New York City into which a stranger cannot go and lounge for six hours without the detective force is warned of it and knows his movements thoroughly. If there is the least suspicious action or expression he is not free frorn espionage as long as he remains. It is greatly to the credit of the men to whom the eafety of these placea is entrusted that they are rarely mistaken in their estimation of the men they shadow. In one town within six years not a mistake has been made, and dozens of stragglers have been apprehended and either put behind the bars or given to understand that in moving on was their only safety. In the case of the Conway child it was developed upon inquiry that if this scheme worked satisfactorily other children were to be similarly captured and held until money could be extorted from the parents. But the sudden coming to grief of this effort has, it is hoped, shown the persons who contémplate such villainy that the undertaking is altogether too risky to pay. It is a fact that ninetynine out of a hundred crimes are detected and the crimináis are punished. The hundredth escapes ometimes merely by fortúnate circumstances, and sometimes because a thorough sifting reveáis the fact that the criminal was too close to the household to be prosecuted. The cold-blooded fiendishness of the kidnapper of children is scarcely paralleled by any act in the history of crime. That all efforts should be made to prevent a recurrence of such acts every well disposed member of every


Old News
Ann Arbor Register