Cpl. Thomas Raisbeck: Common Law Dealt With Peeping Tom

 

Photograph of a Peeping Tom figure (Source of photo - Sheldon Boles).

 

 

For the RCMP Centennial in 1973, RCMP Veteran Thomas Grant Galloway Raisbeck provided an account of his time in the RCMP to the Edmonton Journal newspaper. Tom’s story is provided below for your reading pleasure.

 

 

 

 

Background Details: Tom was born on June 14, 1910 at Taber Alberta and joined the Force on December 8, 1934 at Edmonton. Upon completion of his training at “Depot”, he transferred to “F” Division until his discharged on June 15, 1946. Then on September 1946, he re-engaged on September 20, 1946 at Regina and went no serve in both “F” Division and “K” Division until his retirement in March 13, 1955. In retirement, Tom moved to Kelowna and joined the RCMP Veterans Association becoming a Life Members sometime thereafter. On January 10, 1002, Tom passed away at Kelowna, BC.

Article:

Photograph of Main Street in Melville Saskatchewan.

Photograph of Main Street in Melville Saskatchewan.

With the introduction of town police work to the force, a lot of new types of investigations and general duties also cropped up.

By this time, I was considered a senior man and had successfully investigated and prosecuted all sorts of crimes, including burglaries and arsons, but I had never had a Peeping Tom case.

We had received several complaints in the detachment office from several families about someone suspected of loitering about their homes, looking into bedroom windows.   Usually the complaints came from the parents of a family of girls.

Somehow the elusive interloper always got away before our boys were able to get to his vantage point.

That is until one night when I got the call while I was visiting at my girlfriend’s home.  When I discovered my girlfriend knew exactly where the house in question was and the details of where the girls were keeping the guy entertained, I got her to come with me.  She explained the situation as we drove along.

Photograph of Main Street of Melville Saskatchewan.

Photograph of Main Street of Melville Saskatchewan.

With her information I was able to make it around the corner of the house fast but quietly where I found my man still peering through the lower part of the bedroom window.  A two-inch space below the window blind allowed enough light through that I was able to identify him.

FAST RUNNER

He had proven to be a fast runner on previous occasions and he was about to try his escape this time.  I could see he was widening the space between us and so I tried my lunch with a bluff.  “Stop or I’ll shoot you down,” I told him, yet I didn’t have a gun with me at the time.  He recognized my voice he told me later, and stopped as he reached the front gate.

Now, I had a prisoner but what to do with him was the burning question.  That was 1940 and there was no provision in the criminal code for the prosecution of Peeping Toms.

Photograph of the rear of an old Saskatchewan home (Source of photo - Sheldon Boles).

Photograph of the rear of an old Saskatchewan home (Source of photo – Sheldon Boles).

After a lot of head scratching and many phone calls, our curious fellow was dealt with under Common Law, the first such case in the annals of RCMP prosecutions.  His sentence was suspended and it seemed our problem was solved.  I don’t remember any more such complaints as long as I was stationed in Melville.

The case, however, was not forgotten.  It became a part of our division instructions.  (The Book of Words, we called it.)  This very case was also instrumental in the amendments to the Criminal Code a few years later which made window peeping an offence.

Those four years I spent at Melville detachment were very busy.  One case I investigated kept me on the move for three days and nights with only a few hours sleep.  I was hot on the trail of a cattle-rustling gang and had not time to waste.  The investigation got under way when a short, insignificant looking note was received from a farmer in the Crescent Lake district.  He told of a suspicious truck he had noticed parked near his pasture early one morning.

At the end of three days, I returned to the detachment with four prisoners, one facing 21 charges of theft of cattle, another 18, a  third seven and the fourth three charges.  The foursome were responsible for the theft of 68 heads of cattle over the course of two months over an area of about 5,000 square miles.

ALL QUIET

One day, when all seemed quiet for a change at the detachment office, calls started coming in from outlying small towns with complaints of bad cheques (False pretences).  I was assigned to investigate.  The following day I made an arrest, after picking up several of the bogus documents.  Pierre Flavelle had left the string of offences behind him.

He said he was glad to see me when he recognized me from the old Depot days and he went on to admit that he had done another term in jail since I last saw him, for false pretences, of course.  This time he got two years.

It was while I was stationed at Melville detachment that I first heard of marijuana.

The Book of Words (division instruction book) brought forth the news that this weed had now been declared a controlled drug.  I remember the instruction so well with a picture of the leaf covering half a page.  It was called cannabis sativa, marijuana, marihuana, Indian hemp.

Photograph of Cpl. Tom Raisbeck

Photograph of Constable Thomas Baisbeck.

I thought nothing of this new instruction when I read it, thinking there’d be only a remove possibility that it would ever turn up in our area.  Well, that same afternoon I found myself talking to a resident of Melville’s east end and what do you suppose he was waving in his hand as we chatted?  Yes, it was a sprig from the clippings of his hedge, his Indian hemp hedge.

That was the first encounter with the weed but certainly not the last.  Many of the central European settlers in the neighbouring districts were growing it and admitted they had brought it in from their homeland.  It was used for hedges I was told and the seeds were fed to birds.

QUIET APPROACH

We took a cool, quiet approach to the problem and were convinced the plan was eliminated from the district in a couple of years.

While I was in Melville I reached the age of maturity, so to speak.  i had seven years’ service and that entitled me to a wife.  Of course, not any old wife at all.  I had to have permission from the commissioner to marry the girl of my choice and prove to his satisfaction that I had enough money in the bank to have a good honeymoon.  My fiancé had no trouble hurdling the obstacles of the secret investigation.  She still behaves quiet well.  She is the girl who led me to the home where I found the peeping Tom.

While my permission to marry I also got notice of a transfer to Saskatoon.  After some detachment work and a short stint in the sub-division office, I was made a liaison officer with the Wartime Prices and Trade Board (WTPD).  That meant I would co-ordinate my experience with the investigating brand of the newly formed board and help in prosecutions.

My area covered the norther half of Saskatchewan and another member of the force covered the south half.  I carried marked bills in my pocketbook up to #50,000 at times.

A prime example of the need for marked bills is found in a case right in the city of Saskatoon.  I pointed out to the chief investigator of the WPTB this one day an ad in the paper where a care was offered for sale – “with cow,” it said.

CAR SCARCE

Photograph of an early Saskatchewan car (Source of photo - Sheldon Boles).

Photograph of an early Saskatchewan car (Source of photo – Sheldon Boles).

Cars were hard to get during those late days of the Second World War and black market money was easy to get.  In this case, as it turned out, the seller wanted $800 for the car (ceiling price) and $500 for the cow.  (The cow was worth about $100).

When we arrived at the seller’s home, he had just dismissed a couple of fine looking, well-dressed, big men from the house.  (One of them was the first baseman from the baseball team I played with).  The one I knew could scarcely keep from laughing as he gave me a dig with his elbow while passing him on his way out.

I needed a car to get around with my farmer friend will take the cow, I told the man (I was dressed in a softball sweater and the chief investigator had on farmers overalls).  He was looking out the window to make sure his last two visitors had left the scene and then went on to explain. “It’s a cooked-up deal,” he said.  “Give me $1,200 for the car and forget about the cow.”

Hew was hooked on, while he felt sure he escaped the trap when he refused to sell to the two guys ahead of us.

 image of Ric Hall closing block for his Photo Corner webpage

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