The Great Taxicab Robbery by James H. Collins (1912)

Here is a glimpse into the daily routine of New York Police Department and the lives of a band of criminals over a hundred years ago. Two things caught my eye throughout the story, sensational journalism and dubious lie detection. Multiple times the author criticizes the New York press for overreacting to the absence of immediate arrests and visible police investigation. A smart reminder that newspapers and periodicals were just as likely to print half true, provocative headlines in the past as they do today. At the end of the story watch for some unscientific lie detection. The commissioner seems aware that these devices and ruses are bogus. Instead, these “lie detectors” are used as psychological leverage during interrogation.

A sensation swept through New York City on February 15, 1912. In the middle of the day, a taxi carrying $25,000 from bank to bank was stopped and robbed. Five men were seen escaping with the money in an unidentified black motorcar. Slowly and methodically the case is solved and all the criminals involved are arrested. See the world through the eyes of the police force by reading this account of The Great Taxicab Robbery.

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