Mexborough Times, December 16, 1916
Epidemic of Juvenile Theft
Remarkable Denaby Story
Strong Remarks by the Doncaster Bench
At the Doncaster West Riding Police Court, on Wednesday, three Denaby schoolboys, aged 13, 11 and 11 years, were charged with breaking and entering the lock-up shop of Arthur Sharratt, Denaby main, and stealing a quantity of toffee, cigarettes and tobacco valued at 1 pound 1 shilling and sixpence.
PC Stott, found that the glass of a window had been broken and an entrance effected by removing a bolt. One of the boys afterwards told him he had been to the “pictures” and had broken into the shop in order to be sent to a ship or reformatory.
The boys pleaded guilty, and the eldest said they took no twist tobacco from the shop. They gave about three quarters of the stuff back.
The chairman: That is not the point why did you take this stuff?
Boy: we made it up between us to do it, in order to go into the Navy
Chairman: “Why did you take these things? – We got the idea from the “pictures.”
Then the same night you saw the “pictures” you committed this robbery? – Yes Sir
One of the boys said another boy said he was “dying for a smoke,” and another of the three said “I know, Sharratt´s shop.” And we all agreed to go.
Superintendent Minty said it was rather a mistaken notion that if a boy committied a robbery he would go into the Navy.
It was said that the eldest lad was an orphan. His father was killed at the pit and his mother died 12 months afterwards.
Superintendent Minty said it was the greatest mistake in the world to allow boys to go to the Picture Halls. People thought they were doing them a kindness, but as a matter of fact they were doing them great harm.
The chairman said they considered it a very serious thing for the boys to commit a burglary. It was shocking.
They would each have to receive four strokes with the birch rod. “We also think,” added the Chairman, “that these pictures do considerable harm to juveniles.”