Note: This is an encore post from 2006.
Dec. 21, 1907
Lillian Poelk was new to Los Angeles, with no friends and little more than a job as a waitress that didn’t quite cover the rent of her room at 831 S. Hope.
“While other girls were getting pretty things and preparing for a pleasant Christmas, she was shut up in a cheerless room,” The Times said.
Poelk went to visit an acquaintance at a rooming house at 138 N. Spring St. On her way to the woman’s room, Poelk passed the quarters of Mary Del Rose, who had left her door open. Seeing two $5 gold pieces on the dresser, Poelk impulsively took the money.
Apparently instead of visiting, Poelk left the rooming house but was overcome with guilt and fear of being arrested. She went into a department store and threw “the money into the toilet room,” The Times said.
The rooming house’s janitor saw the theft and reported it to police. When Poelk was arrested, she begged for mercy. Police Capt. Auble said: “if we find that Miss Poelk is a good girl we will do all we can to secure her release. A girl living by herself is beset with enough trials and temptations to wreck a saint.”
There are no further stories on Poelk, so we don’t know what became of her. Nor do we know if Del Rose received restitution for her money ($205.24 USD 2005). We can only hope for the best.