#181 Peter Lamb

Peter Reinhart (Abt. 1839-After 1897), aka Peter Rinehart, Peter Lamb, Henry Miner, John Miller, John Willet, John Fredericks, Dutch Pete — Burglar, Sneak thief

From Byrnes’s text:

DESCRIPTION. Forty-six years old in 1886. German, born in United States. Married. An auctioneer. Stout build. Height, 5 feet 10 inches. Weight, 210 pounds. Brown hair, brown eyes, light complexion. Generally wears a light brown mustache.

RECORD. “Dutch Pete,” or Peter Rinehart, which is his right name, is a very clever shoplifter and burglar. He is well known in New York, Boston, Chicago, and several of the other large cities. He has served three terms in Sing Sing prison, N.Y. Pete was arrested in New York City on December 4, 1879, in company of John Cass, alias Big Cass, another notorious burglar, charged with committing a burglary at No. 329 Canal Street, New York, a Russia leather establishment. He was also charged with another burglary, committed at No. 73 Grand Street, New York City, where the burglars carried away $2,000 worth of silks. For the latter offense he was sentenced to three years in Sing Sing prison, on December 18, 1879, by Judge Cowing, in the Court of General Sessions.

Lamb was arrested again in New York City, in December, 1882, for the larceny of some penknives (a sneak job) from a safe in a store on Broadway, near Duane Street, New York. For this he was sentenced to four years in Sing Sing prison (his third term), for grand larceny in the second degree, on January 3, 1883, by Judge Gildersleeve, under the name of John Willet. His sentence expired on January 3, 1886. Lamb’s picture is a good one, taken in April, 1879.

Byrnes noted the real name of “Dutch Pete” as Peter Rinehart; while a Sing Sing registry asserts the last name as Reinhart. One of those registers also indicates that he was a nephew of a German tap room operator, Nicholas Schoen; but even with this information, the family connection and heritage of Reinhart remain elusive. All three of his Sing Sing registers indicate that he was born in New York; and that he was a brush maker and peddler, not an auctioneer.

He was a burglar and thief of ordinary talents, which is to say that he was often captured and rarely scored big hauls. His first visit to Sing Sing was in June, 1872, under the name Henry Miner. Dutch Pete was caught sneaking money from a store backroom while his confederate–a famous thief named Chauncey Johnson–distracted the store owner. He was sentence to a term of five years.

While there, Pete was assigned to hard labor in the prison quarry, but another former-prisoner later revealed that Pete and a select few others could get away without work:


Pete’s second trip to Sing Sing occurred in December 1879, under the name John Miller. The offense details are as Byrnes describes (see above.) Pete and Big Cass were caught as they cased the outside of the leather shop. A detective snuck up behind them, and heard Cass ask Pete, “Is it all right?,” meaning was it safe to break in. Pete was heard to reply, “All clear, Butty.” The detective then interrupted their operation.

Pete was arrested in February 1882 with a confederate, charged with separating a fool from his money. His partner plied the victim, Alfred Bowie, with drinks, and then steered him toward a brothel. Pete stood at the door of the brothel, pretending to be the proprietor. Pete’s partner advised Bowie to hand over his money and valuables for safekeeping to Pete, so that they would not be stolen upstairs. Bowie did so, and then walked upstairs. Meanwhile, Pete and his partner ran off with the valuables. Pete appears to have escaped lightly for this offense.

He was caught later that same year, in December, stealing knives from a safe, as Byrnes described above. This adventure earned a third tour of Sing Sing.


In April 1892, under the name John Fredericks, Pete was convicted of petit larceny, and spent a brief term at the city prison on Blackwell’s Island.

Pete spent his last years living under the name Peter Lamb. He swore that he had reformed, and was given a job in New York’s Sanitation Department as a street sweeper. No one could say that he didn’t know brushes, but his performance of his duties was lacking. At some point, his bosses fired him, but Captain Stephen O’Brien of the NYPD Detective Bureau stepped in and got his his job back–it was better to have a lazy street sweeper than an active thief on the streets.




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