Albert J. Cropsey (#54)

Albert J. Cropsey (1852-1934) aka Alfred Cropsey, William Crosby — Hotel and boarding-house thief

Albert J. Cropsey’s criminal career followed a depressingly familiar trajectory: between ages twenty to forty-four, he was sent to prison four times for burglarizing boarding houses, hotels, and stores–his sentences totaled fourteen years. Moreover, those represent just the jailings that are known; there may have been more under unidentified aliases.

Albert was born to Jasper and Caroline Cropsey, living in Manhattan’s Ninth Ward. Despite the proximity of place and time, Albert’s father Jasper was not the famous landscape painter of the same name.

Albert was first jailed in 1872 under the name William Crosby for Grand Larceny, and sentenced to Sing Sing for a period of two years and six months. He was sent back to Sing Sing in 1875 for burglary, for the same length of time. In 1878, he and an accomplice stole money from the safe of the Stanwix Hall hotel in Albany, earning him a sentence of five years in the Albany jail.

Albert was out by 1883, when he was arrested for stealing silverware from a boarding house in Passaic, New Jersey. His method was to check in to boarding-houses as a resident, observe where the valuables were kept and the habits of the staff, and then make off with whatever he could fence. In this case, he was discharged for lack of evidence.

However, he was caught again in New York in April, 1890, and recognized by Chief Byrnes. This time, he had cajoled two young English immigrants to do the stealing of silk bolts, which he received in order to sell. For this crime he was sent to Sing Sing for four years.


…and then Albert J. Cropsey changed his life.

When the Spanish-American war fervor reached its peak, Albert J. Cropsey enlisted as a 46-year-old private. after the war, he was hired at the Brooklyn Navy Yard as a painter. In 1903 he married Jane (Jennie) Winn, and in 1907 they had a daughter, named Caroline after Albert’s mother.

Albert J. Cropsey and his family lived peacefully in Brooklyn for the next three decades, until his death in 1934 at age 82.


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