#184 Rudolph Lewis

Rudolph Reuben (1864-19??), aka Rudolph Miller, Frank Bernard, Frank Parker, Charles Fink, Joseph Philips, etc. — Shoplifter

From Byrnes’s text:

DESCRIPTION. Twenty-one years old in 1886. German, born in the United States. Single. No trade. Slim build. Height, 5 feet 8 inches. Weight, 130 pounds. Brown hair, hazel eyes, sallow complexion. Three dots of India ink on inside of left fore-arm. Large ears.

RECORD. Young Rudolph is, perhaps, one of the smartest young thieves in America. He has just started out, and from his career so far he is calculated to develop into a first-class man. He is pretty well known in all the Eastern cities, especially in New York and Boston, where his picture is in the Rogues’ Gallery. He is an associate of Frank Watson, alias Big Patsey, Little Eddie Kelly, Jack McCormack, alias Big Mack, and Charles Lewis, all notorious east side New York thieves.

Lewis was arrested in New York City on September 22, 1883, charged with stealing a piece of silk, valued at $100, from the store of Lewis Brothers, No. 86 Worth Street, New York. He forfeited his bail and went to Boston, Mass., where he was arrested for shoplifting, and sentenced to eighteen months in the House of Correction, on November 19, 1883, under the name of Rudolph Miller.

His time expired in Boston on April 25, 1885, when he was re-arrested on a requisition, and brought back to New York, to answer for the larceny of the piece of silk. Lewis pleaded guilty in the silk case, and was sentenced to two years in Sing Sing prison, on April 3, 1885, by Judge Cowing. His sentence will expire on December 30, 1886. Young Rudolph’s picture is a good one, taken in September, 1883.

Like many police detectives then and now, Inspector Byrnes relished catching talented habitual crooks; so he can be forgiven for predicting–perhaps even wishing–a great criminal career for “Young Rudolph” Reuben. As it turned out, Byrnes was correct: Rudolph victimized fine clothing and jewelry stores for over three decades–when he wasn’t serving prison sentences.

Rudolph was born in New York in 1864 to German immigrants Michael and Sarah Reuben. Rudolph grew up with three old sisters and four younger sisters; by the time that two brothers were added to the family, Rudolph was likely already spending most of his time on the streets of New York (and, for a few years, Detroit).

He was adopted as a trained shoplifter by Marm Mandelbaum, shortly before she was exiled to Ontario. From her he received the support to range out to steal in other cities. He was first captured in Boston in 1883; and upon serving eighteen months there as Rudolph Miller, was returned to New York to repose in his first visit to Sing Sing (for a crime committed prior to going to Boston.) He was imprisoned as Rudolph Lewis.

Undeterred, Rudolph resumed shoplifting as soon as he returned from Sing Sing. He was captured in February, 1887 purloining bolts of material at a silk merchant store. This time he returned to Sing Sing for another two years as Francis “Frank” Parker.

Reuben then apparently had a long string of luck eluding the police from 1889 until 1896. In 1896 and again in 1898 he was sent to Blackwell’s Island Penitentiary for short sentences as, respectively, Frank Roberts and Joseph Roberts.

In December, 1899, Rudolph returned to Sing Sing as Frank Bernard, this time for a three year term for larcenies committed at jewelry stores on Maiden Lane in Lower Manhattan. He just completed his sentence there before stealing again and being banished to Blackwell’s Island in March 1902 as Charles Bernstine.

August 1904 found Rudolph back in Sing Sing as Charles Fink, serving two and a half years.

In 1909, Rudolph walked into a Brooklyn jewelry store and asked to see some rings from a case. He grabbed one and ran out the door; however, he was now a forty-five year old man in bad shape, and couldn’t outrun his pursuers. However, before being aught he did swallow the ring. He returned to serve a fifth term at Sing Sing as Joseph Roberts.

In 1913 he bounced back to Blackwell’s Island for a year as George Davis.

In his last years, Reuben appears to have tired of shoplifting, and stayed out of trouble. He had provided a sense of satisfaction to generations of New York police detectives.


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