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The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

FINKELSTEIN, LOUIS - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

FINKELSTEIN, LOUIS, aka "Louie the Dip" (Aug. 1894-1 Jan. 1964) was Cleveland's "prince of pickpockets". His fifty-year career record of over 120 arrests and twenty sentences served made him the most frequently arrested pickpocket in Cleveland's history.

Born in Odessa, Russia, Finkelstein came to Cleveland in 1909. His first arrest occurred in March 1909 for picking a woman's purse in the Grand Theater lobby. Between 1909-1915, Finkelstein was arrested three times, serving terms in the Ohio Reformatory and the Warrensville Workhouse.

Between 1915-1933 Finkelstein was arrested 46 times (convicted 23) for numerous offenses. The highlight of this period occurred in 1933 when he picked the Parma police chief's pocket and once spent a Saturday night in two jails, in Chardon and Cleveland. Finkelstein picked his bail bondsman's pocket, and even that of a reporter covering one of his trials.

Sentenced to the Workhouse in 1933 Finkelstein escaped but was recaptured in New York while working the crowd at a revival meeting. Convicted of grand larceny, he was given an 8-10 year sentence at Sing Sing. The U.S. government unsuccessfully attempted to deport Finkelstein as a habitual criminal.

Paroled in 1941, Finkelstein returned to Cleveland and the Workhouse. A 1942 City investigation found that Finkelstein was the Workhouse "boss", avoiding all tough jobs and arranging for money and favors for prisoners.

In 1954 arthritis forced Finkelstein into early "retirement". He tried gambling, but failed. Finkelstein applied for relief and received his first payment in 1959.

Finkelstein married Annabelle Morris. They had no children. Finkelstein died penniless and is buried in Ridge Road No. 1 Cemetery (Chesed Shel Emeth).

Last Modified: 10 Jul 1997 05:11:12 PM

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