Pedro Perez a.k.a. The Christmas Tree Burglar Accepts Plea, June 1928

Finger prints, without further evidence, have convicted another man!

Pedro Perez, known under many aliases, among which is the "Christmas Tree Burglar," faced with the telltale evidence of his finger prints on windows, tables, cash boxes, sills and other articles he had touched in committing burglaries over a period of more than a year, chose to plead guilty on two counts in Superior Judge Keetch's Court rather than to stand trial on seven counts. Sentence will be passed within a week.

And thus again are finger prints, as evidence in a court of justice, vindicated. A few years ago such evidence was laughed at. Later, lawyers, judges, juries and prisoners were skeptical, but today such evidence is considered so irrefutable that lawyers and clients look on past records with a feeling akin to horror.

Perez is only 22 years old and yet he has a criminal past that was his undoing. Four years ago he was arrested in Long Beach for a burglary job and given a sentence. Because of his youth he was granted a probation.

But his finger prints were taken!

Again in 1924 he appeared in California courts, receiving a short sentence to lone.

And again his finger prints were recorded.

After his release from the Preston School for Boys, there began a series of mysterious burglaries in and about Los Angeles. Many homes were broken into. The burglar climbed through upper windows ; he broke windows; he removed screens, but in all places he was leaving his telltale calling cards. Photographs taken in each case by finger print experts, led the officers back to the records of Pedro Perez. Then began the hunt for him which continued for several months before he was captured.

Perez appeared in court with his attorney who previously had told the Deputy District Attorney that his client would plead guilty on one count if the others would be dropped.

"Two counts or we go to trial," said the District Attorney.

"Trial it is, then," said Perez' attorney.

A few minutes later in walked Sergeant H. L. Barlow, finger print expert of the Police Department with an armful of photographs.

Behind him were M. F. Nuranberg, Glenn Wilson and L. F. Miller, of the Finger Print Division of the sheriff's office, also with photographs.

Perez' lawyer saw and heeded. "Guilty on two counts and no trial," he said.

"Done," said the District Attorney and the plea was duly entered, which means that Perez may receive sentence up to life.

This finger print evidence may be considered remarkable, in view of the fact that there was not one other bit of evidence to connect Perez with the burglaries in question. Not a single article stolen had been found on him or traced to him directly.

1. "Finger Prints Undoing of Man In Burglary", Finger Print and Identification Magazine, Vol. 9, No. 12, June 1928, page 3.

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