Excitement at Erskineville – A Ruse Which Led To Escape

A Clever Trick

A clever instance of police impersonation, which unfortunately allowed the ends of justice to be defeated, is reported from Erskineville…

The Express and Telegraph (Adelaide) Wednesday, 28 May 1902

On the night of Saturday 24 May 1902 Mr. James Sanders, a grocer, had his attention attracted to a man who was upon the balcony of his premises, and whose actions were decidedly suspicious…

Excitement at Erskineville - Catching a burglar.png

Evening News (Sydney) Tuesday, 27 May 1902

In the days that followed articles throughout the country described the altercation broadly in line with the first article to appear in the Evening News, but with slight differences typically along the lines of the following:

Mr. James Sanders, a Swanson-street grocer, had his attention drawn to an unknown man who was on his balcony, and whose actions were, to say the least, suspicious. Procuring his revolver, he invited the supposed burglar to come down at once. The latter did so, and making the most of an opportunity, made a bolt for it.

The Clarence River Advocate (NSW) Friday, 6 June 1902

There’s just something about the language used. Wonderful.

And so to the corner of Sydney Street and Swanson Street Erskineville. A review of the Sands Directory shows Mr. James Sanders listed as a grocer on the corner of Swanson and Sydney Streets, appearing for the first time in the 1901 edition of the directory, and for the final time in the 1911 edition.

Swanson St Sands Directory 1901 Erskineville

1901 Sands Directory – Swanson Street (Extract)

This extract of the 1901 Sands Directory shows listings for the northern side of Swanson Street in the vicinity of Sydney Street. It shows that the the shop operated by Mr. James Sanders was one of two grocers at the intersection of Sydney and Swanson Streets, with the premises operated by Mr. Sanders on the Alexandria side (the eastern side) of the intersection.

Excitement at Erskineville Swanson Street

30 Swanson Street – 1894 – City of Sydney Section Erskineville. Also shown is the premises of neighbour Robert Ellis of 5 Sydney Street

Swanson Street has since been renumbered, and this corner of Swanson and Sydney Streets is now known as 40 Swanson Street. The building still stands, however the balcony (and balcony posts) used by the would-be burglar have been removed:

40 Swanson Street (formerly 30 Swanson Street) Erskineville

A witness known to have been present at the time of the attempted burglary and the night’s other events was approached for comment, however their co-operation was not forthcoming and they remain tight-lipped:


Fascade decoration – 40 Swanson Street Erskineville

This entry was posted in 1900-1909, Swanson Street, Sydney Street and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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