THROUGH THE ARCHIVES: Post office branch broken into during ‘audacious’ robbery

From the News Letter, February 4, 1879

Thursday, 4th February 2021, 6:00 am

“Another case of systematic robbery has just been added to the many which have lately been recorded as occurring in and around Belfast,” reported the News Letter on this day in 1879.

This time the victim of the robbery was the post office which was kept by Mr James Black on the Castlereagh Road which had been “daringly invaded” earlier that week under the darkness of night.

The Black family had retired to bed at about 11 o’clock on the night of the robbery.

The Castlereagh Road in Belfast. Picture: Pacemaker Press

Mrs Black told the police that she had heard something “like a scraping or rasping noise” from the shop underneath their living quarters but neither she nor Mr Black rose to check.

The following morning Mr Black found that the kitchen window had been unfastened, a table had been moved and several articles had been flung “hither and thither in a most disorderly state”.

On entering the shop he found drawers lying on the ground in “a rifled state” and beside them were found two half sovereigns.

The News Letter remarked: “This robbery is one of the most daring that has been committed for some time, as the locality is a most public one, and several neighbours at that hour were not retired for the night.”

The correspondent added: “In fact, the next house was thoroughly lighted up and a lady occupant was startled by the noises heard about the premises, as well as the savage barking of the dog, but never dreamt of what was proceeding.”