By 1934, Port Adelaide had changed dramatically, although it was still a shipping port, the crime rate had somewhat dropped off, people had become more refined, sailors more civilised and respectful, but there was always that criminal element,. And in 1934, that criminal element was a very young one!
Six boys, ranging from the ages of ten years old to fourteen years old were on a crime spree throughout the town.
The boys had scaled a six foot barbed wire fence at the back of Mrs Dunn's shop on Military Road in Largs Bay, there they had stolen 4 glass half-gallon flagons valued at 2/6, they returned again later and stole four more bottles, this time empty ones valued at 4d. - Along with the bottles they stole syphon and other cool, drink bottles, some of which had been stored in cupboards in the rear of the shop.
The boys would often be seen by Mrs Dunn, trying to sidle their way along the side of the shop to the rear fence without being seen, she would scare them off, and they would run away.
It was known that these young lads were the cause of other thefts and acts of vandalism in the Largs Bay area and when they were eventually caught by a plains clothes Constable, A.L. Mitchell, the prosecution was not lenient on the boys....or their parents, as you will see in the following excerpt from a newspaper story at the time:
“Six boys,, whose ages ranged from 10 to 14 years, admitted charges of larceny, and of having been unlawfully on premises, before Messrs. J. H. Richards and F. A. Elix, in the Port Adelaide Juvenile Court yesterday.
Plain clothes Constable A. L. Mitchell,who prosecuted, said that three of Of boys, aged 11, I2, and 14, were jointly charged with having, on January 21, Access to the spot was gained either through her shop or over a six foot barb -wire fence. On one occasion she was attracted to the side of the premises by a noise, and she chased away four or five small boys .Constable J. Allen, of Largs Bay,said that he questioned all of the boys,who admitted the offences. Mr. Richards said that the boys were members of a criminal gang in the making. The court wished to impress upon the parents that it was their duty to look after their boys. It was no good allowing them to be out at all hours of the night and day. The parents were still responsible, even when the children were out of sight. Parents who refrained from looking after their charges were assisting them to be the criminals of the future. The 14-year-old boy, who was regarded by Mr. Richards as the ringleader of the gang, was ordered two years' detention at the Reformatory on two charges of larceny and one of having been unlawfully on the premises. The father of the 11-year-old boy, who had been bound over in a 12 months 'bond to be of good behaviour, in May,1933. for having unlawfully used a bicycle, was ordered to enter into another bond of £20 for his son to be of good behaviour for a further 12 months. The parents of the other four boys were required to enter into bonds of £10 each for their sons to be of good behaviour for 12 months.” - The Advertiser - Thursday 1 February 1934
© 2013 Allen Tiller
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