Such Very Seductive Shoplifters

Alice Diamond and the Forty Elephants was recently serialised in the Daily Mail.

A succession of black hansom cabs from south of the Thames rolled to a halt outside Selfridges department store on London’s Oxford Street.

It was the autumn of 1915 and out of each cab, three or four smartly dressed women descended. In their individual groups, they walked purposefully into the shop, as a chauffeured limousine came gliding to a stop behind them.

From the running-board of the motor car stepped a tall, handsome woman in magnificent furs, who swept into Selfridges like a queen.

In the space of the next hour, the women proceeded to loot a fortune in jewellery and clothes. They did it without causing any disturbance, without even being suspected.

The only sign of anything untoward was that all of these elegant ladies looked much bulkier as they sauntered out of the store.

The magnificent woman who had arrived in motorised splendour appeared to be suddenly obese. And well she might. Concealed under her dress were two sable coats, bundled up and stowed in hidden pockets within her petticoats.

Her name was Alice Diamond, acknowledged by one leading detective 100 years ago to be ‘queen of the cleverest gang of hoisters’ (or shoplifters) in London.

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