November 22, 1897: "Thief Marker" Invention Works Perfectly to Identify the Robber


By Margaret Leidy Harner from her book One Day at a Time: A Social History of Boyertown, PA.

November 22, 1897: The chap who robbed Gabel’s Cold Storage House will take his meals standing up for a while. Henry G. Gabel’s building has been a special mark for petty thieves for many years, being robbed regularly every few weeks. Local hucksters and farmers store their butter, eggs and other produce here and their loses have been considerable.

Burglar alarms and a special watch have done nothing to slow the progress of the thief, until Gabel rigged up a new and very novel contrivance, a “thief marker,” in the building. A gun loaded with buckshot was carefully placed to explode only when the door was opened wide.
It worked like a charm and went off last night when the thief escaped with, not only 20 pounds of butter, but also a whole charge of shot in his pants.

By a strange coincidence, a prominent Gabelsville man who serves many Boyertown people with butter, eggs and produce was compelled to send for a physician to extract a lot of shot from the “starboard end of his anatomy: and “the pilferer was thankful the gun wasn't aimed higher!”

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