Tales from the Morgue: Youthful criminals keep police busy

2013-05-03T18:45:00Z Tales from the Morgue: Youthful criminals keep police busyJohanna Eubank Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
May 03, 2013 6:45 pm  • 

The Morgue Lady has been a bit hard to find lately, but she will attempt to revive this blog. Other duties have kept her away for a while.


Juvenile crime has been a problem since there have been juveniles. Once upon a time, parents worried when kids stole hubcaps. Were they careening down the slippery slope to grand theft auto?

Parents were advised to keep their young boys in the house after dark and monitor their friendships so they wouldn't fall in with the wrong crowd. All sound advice, even in this day and age, but it is definitely harder to monitor the activities of one's children these days.

From the Arizona Daily Star, July 10, 1937: 


Police Are Kept Busy In Cleaning Up Juvenile Crime Work

A series of petty thefts and minor crimes committed by boys have kept the detectives and plainclothesmen of the police force on their toes since the first of July.

In most instances the youthful offenders, whose ages range from eight to 12 years, have been apprehended. But some are still being sought by police. The most recent job was brought to a speedy end yesterday when officers caught three boys stealing inner tubes from Jo Hall's service station at North Sixth and Toole Avenues.

Purses Snatched

On four different occasions in the last few days, pairs of boys have snatched purses from women at night on streets in the business section. In each case the officers were able to apprehend the boys. In each instance the victims gave the police minute descriptions of the boys which aided in their capture.

One group of boys were caught stealing storage batteries from cars in parking lots and in garages. They had been selling the batteries for scrap metal.

Car is Robbed

Last week three boys stole approximately $70 worth of merchandise from a car in a parking lot. They were found the next day selling some of their loot on the street. Only part of it was recovered.

Officers succeeded in breaking up an organized gang of boy thieves, and they learned that in order to become a member of the gang the boys, among other things, had to prove their cleverness by stealing a certain number of radiator caps and gearshift knobs. Police also apprehended a 12 year-old boy who had burglarized a grocery store on North Main street.

Sent to Fort

In most instances these boys were sentenced to the State Industrial school at Fort Grant. Others were sent to relatives in various cities in order to break up their relationships with their partners in crime. Some of the cases are still in the hands of juvenile authorities.

The officers pointed out that in many cases the boys who were implicated in these crimes had previous records, and some had been to Fort Grant several times. They said that in many cases the parents of the boys were indirectly responsible for the boys' misdeeds. Most of these crimes, police said, occurred after 9 o'clock at night. They were of the opinion that if parents kept their children in their homes after this hour much of this trouble would be eliminated.

The officers commended one parent who laid off work to capture his son and turned him over to them.


The Morgue Lady wonders how many of these boys had parents who were unable to be home in the evenings because they were working. Yes, most mothers stayed home, but not all of them. And there were single (usually widowed) mothers who supported their families by occupations that might have required evening hours.

Parents must be responsible for their children, yes, but that doesn't mean they are always at fault.

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