Chicago Tribune, August 7, 2011
We are the long and short of it and we’re a little bit short tonight. … Keep cool and sit down in that chair and you will be all right.
— “Red” Sullivan, 2 July 1896 robbery of a drugstore
Chicago was beset by a crime wave during the summer of 1896, and much of it came at the hands of the “long” man and the “short” man.
On 2 Jul 1896, two gunmen, known as the “Long and Short Gang”, commit their 14th hold-up in two months, and make their escape, despite 30 detectives on the case.
Jesse Thames, a dapper 5-foot-11-inch man and “Red” Sullivan, his “pimply faced” 5-foot-6-inch partner were the big news sensation of the summer.
They weren’t getting wealthy: The jobs netted $50 or $25. One got them just $7.50. The Long and Short Gang’s big score was 11 July, when the gang — now five men strong — robbed the New York Biscuit Co. at Randolph and Morgan streets, formerly known as Carpenter Block, and made off with $1,760.
The newspapers mocked the police after each event with headlines like: “Escape — as usual,” “Last of all came — police” and “Police helpless as babes.” Law enforcement responded with numerous dragnets, where “every crook in the city would be rounded up.”
In the end, the “long” man was captured before leaving for Milwaukee to get married. Ironically Thames was later married in the same courtroom that he was convicted in just six weeks earlier.
Their jobs were bold, professional and “most delicately and neatly carried out.” A drugstore heist was so quick that a second clerk in the store didn’t notice it happened.
They weren’t getting wealthy: The jobs netted $50 or $25. One got them just $7.50. The Long and Short Gang’s big score was July 11, when the gang — now five men strong — robbed the New York Biscuit Co. at Randolph and Morgan streets, formerly known as Carpenter Block, and made off with $1,760.
The newspaper mocked the police after each event with headlines like: “Escape — as usual,” “Last of all came — police” and “Police helpless as babes.” Law enforcement responded with numerous dragnets, where “every crook in the city would be rounded up.”
Justice would prevail before the month was out, but not before the newspaper, quoting police, erroneously named two people as the “short” man before settling on “Red” Sullivan. At least three men were named as his taller accomplice.
In the end, the “long” man was captured before leaving for Milwaukee to get married. His name was Jesse Thames.
At 11 o’clock to-night the “long and short” men held up the drugstore of Adolph Gaul, corner of North Clark street and North avenue, securing $76. The robbers pursued their usual tactics. The proprietor shot at the fleeing bandits several times without effect.
Jesse Thames Found Guilty and Will Go to Prison. J
Jesse Thanks Found Guilty. After half an hour’s deliberation tbe Jury which heard the evidence tn tbe case of Jesse Thames, alias Thompson, last evening he turned a verdict in Judge Clifford’s court. And. leg Thames guilty of robbery as charged. The verdict was read at 1:S0 o’clock. Thames appeared unmoved. Mrs. Thames, who sat within the railing of the courtroom, buried her face in a handkerchief and gave way to tears. Several women who were with the wife of the prisoner offered their consolations. Thames and jis wife were married in the same building In which he was convicted, six weeks ago.
On his way back to his cell Thames remarked to one of the guards: “I knew I would be convicted. The convictions of the others, Orme. Dempsey, and Mona, has, practically settled my fate. Besides, nearly all the Jurors who tried my case heard the evidence in the other case, in which frequent use of my name was made. Well, all I have to say is they have got me wrong.” The Jury in its verdict found that Thames Is 22 years old. Under the verdict be will go to the penitentiary for an Indeterminate period. After Thames waa convicted his wife called at the county Jail and sent him word that she would call upon him today.
Tbe robbery of which Thame was convicted took place on the evening of July 7 In O-fb-ton’s drug store. Sixty-Third street and Madison avenue. Four youths appeared at the drug storat 7:30 o’clock. One of them, who witnesses say was “Red” Sullivan guarded the street door while Thame and the two others, supposed to have been Orme and Monahan. entered the place. Thames robbed J. H. Crow ell while the others terrorised J. T. Teufer, tbe clerk, and broke open the cash register, taking all the money it contained. The robbers made a wild flourish of revolvers and used much profanity while committing the robbery. “Red” Sullivan, who pleaded guilty to complicity la the New Tork Biscuit Company robbery, waa yesterday Indicted on a charge of assault with intent to kill Patrol Sergeant William Sauer of tbe East Chlearo avenue station. This Indictment will be held against brim and may be reinstated at some future date.