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The Charles Deutsch Case

From the autobiographical notes of Captain Charles Albertson  regarding his career in the New York City Police Department and his travels and adventures during retirement beginning in January 1905.


One warm Sunday morning in the summer of 1883, I went on post on Union Square at midnight and had been there about an hour when at 14th Street, when Charles Deutsch, a brewer of Dobbs Ferry, New York with a place of business on Union Square, jumped from a Broadway car going south and in a very excited manner told me how he had boarded the car in front of the Fifth Avenue Hotel, and soon after four men got on. One of them placed himself by the side of the conductor, another in the front door which was open, and the other two, one each side of him. As he was on the front platform they started in at once. One of them held him while the other commenced to go through his pockets.

The driver of the car, a big Irishman applied the brakes and went at the two knocking both into the street. All four ran through 20th Street towards 4th Avenue. As soon as Mr. Deutsch came t me we hastened up the Square towards where the crime had been attempted. At the north west corner of 17th Street and Broadway builders were changing the Goelet Mansion into a store and there was a high board fence extending out enclosing about one half of the walk. As we came up to the fence Deutsch said to me, “There they are!” pointing to four men going down Broadway on the east side. I said, “Come,” and we ran across Broadway. I grabbed two and he one and the fourth ran away. They were taken entirely by surprise.

We started up Broadway towards the station but had gone only a short distance when my two decided not to go and kept me very busy for a couple of minutes when one of them broke loose. Just then “Little Mike” a private watchman appeared with his revolver in his hand. I shouted, “Hold him” and started after the runaway. He ran east through 18th Street. I gained on him and at 4th Avenue called to him to stop or I would shoot, and when he did not do so, I fired in the air. He tumbled into a heap shouting, “I am hit,” and even after arriving at the station house insisted that he was wounded and an ambulance was sent for and he was examined by the surgeon before he was satisfied.

I had the driver and conductor of the car at court in the morning, and when the prisoners’ counsel asked the driver if he was positive they were the men, he said “Sure, didn’t I put me mark on two of them?” He was correct. The four robbers consisted of two pair of brothers. They plead guilty and were given different sentences due to their criminal records. The youngest of the three having a good record got three and one half years. When his time was up, he came to me and said, “I have a chance to get a position as bank messenger in a Wall Street Bank. They know my history but I will have to come here to a bank on the Square and if they knew my record I may lose my job.” I said “Go ahead, be a man and I will never cause you any trouble while you do right.” He held the position for years and may be there yet. The president of the bank was his mother’s brother.

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