Breaking up a 19th Century Burglary Ring on Chelsea (Revere) Beach

One of the earliest officers of the Massachusetts State Police, was Benjamin H. Linscott, who gained notoriety for a shootout with a burglary gang on Chelsea Beach (now Revere Beach) in 1866. Linscott was born in Alfred, Maine, in 1833 and married a New Hampshire woman when he was 21. They would have two sons. Like many other early officers of the MSP, which was formed several weeks after the end of the Civil War, Linscott was a veteran of the Union Army, having served with the 40th Infantry Division. In the MSP’s infancy — July of 1865 — William Sterling King, chief constable of the newly-formed State Police, appointed Linscott as a State Police Deputy Constable. On Sept. 5, 1866, Linscott and fellow Deputy Constables James P. Wade and James W. Kirk began surveillance of three men who were gambling and behaving suspiciously on Chelsea Beach. The deputies followed the men north to Beverly by train and horse-drawn wagon, and several days later were waiting for them as they returned on a road leading to Chelsea Beach. The deputies confronted the men at 4 a.m.; a struggle ensued as the deputies tried to arrest them. Linscott was shot in the knee, and one of the suspects was fatally shot four times by Deputy Wade. The second suspect was captured, and the third, though shot three times, escaped. As for the burglars’ ill-gotten gains, the deputies recovered some $4,000 in silver stolen from two homes on West Beach in Beverly. Linscott continued to serve as a constable for two more years, and later worked as a grain inspector. He is believed to be the first State Police officer shot in the line of duty.


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