Armed Robbery in Belfast

Belfast Telegraph, 6 August 1921

In August 1921, the Belfast Telegraph reported on a recent wave of armed robberies in the city. It commented on the large number of revolvers in Belfast and criticised the lenient sentences of the civil courts.

Crime in Belfast

Three serious cases of robbery under arms occurred on Friday night in Belfast, and in one of these where resistance was offered the gang did not hesitate to shoot, with the result that two business men, in their offices at College Court, were seriously wounded. An unfortunate feature of the raid is that the thieves were not caught red-handed. Crimes of this sort are due to the fact that there are so many revolvers at large in the city. Dublin is passing through a similar experience at the hands of revolver men, acting on their won. At the Green Street Commission on Friday the Lord Chief Justice sentenced a man to two years’ hard labour for assaulting a laundry manageress with a revolver and stealing £15 from her. Earlier in the week the same judge sentenced an entire gang for similar offences all over the Metropolis. Crimes of this description ae a menace to public safety, and will have to be sternly dealt with. Courts-martial have marked their sense of them by very heavy sentences, but the punishment meted out in some of the civil courts has been on a very different scale, and that does not at all coincide with the public view of the enormity of these offences. Some of the sentences passed in revolver cases at Belfast during the present year have been outstanding in their leniency. But we live in strange times, when the police are prevented from arresting men suspected of robbery under arms because the motive was said to be political. There was actually a case in Belfast the other day where a prisoner, charged with the Great Victoria Street Post Office robbery, was released because he had been arrested during the truce. We never knew before that the association between robbery and politics was so close; but evidently the stealing of money from post offices is recognised by the Government as part of the “war.”

The serious occurrences of yesterday were followed to-day by an equally serious affair, in which a policeman was shot in the Knock district. There is no evidence at the moment of writing as to the motive, but the fact that such a crime was committed shows the risk run by the police. There can be no question of truce in this case, and we trust that the miscreants will be run to earth. There has surely been sufficient shooting in the city, without a renewal of it by burglars or other evil-disposed persons.