Shepherd’s Bush Shopkeeper & Burglar, Bertha Cruch, who Greeted Detectives with a Smile

The following article appeared in the Belfast Telegraph on 31st July 1924:

‘A young and attractive woman, whom the police consider the most extraordinary woman burglar of modern times, was sentenced to fourteen months’ imprisonment at the Middlesex Quarter Sessions yesterday.

She is Bertha Cruch, a married woman with two children. She is a veritable Jekyll and Hyde. By night she committed no fewer than ten burglaries in the last six months alone, in Hampstead and Golders Green, stealing valuables and clothing worth many hundreds of pounds.

By day she was a respectable shopkeeper in a busy thoroughfare in Shepherd’s Bush, attending to the demands of her customers and a devoted mother.

She always went alone on her night expeditions, a most unusual procedure for a woman thief. How long she has been engaged in housebreaking is a mystery.

The fact remains that she was able to open doors and rifle dressing-tables and wardrobes with the consummate skill and daring of the most expert cracksman.

She only carried two implements, however, a table knife and a hammer. How she was able to carry on her campaign of crime without the knowledge of her husband, a respectable clerk in a Government office, puzzled Sir Montague Sharpe, who sent her to prison yesterday.

She was, however, a woman with a dominant personality. She told her husband that she had been visiting friends – friends who gave her the things she sometimes allowed him to see.

She went about dressed in a fur coat worth £100, and wore silken underclothing and evening dresses – all stolen from the houses she raided. She wore, too, a magnificent diamond ring worth £150 and another valued at £85.

When she was trapped at last in a house which she had broken into, she remained in the drawing-room and calmly awaited the arrival of the detectives, whom she greeted with a smile’

Steve Russell

(Thanks to Colin Woodley for sending me the article)