Nighttime Robberies Mystery – Solved!
Here's another December happening way back when in the silent movie world of Santa Barbara.
"Capture of a night prowler in the grounds of the American Film Company's studio was accomplished last week as the climax to a mystery . . . Thefts of a peculiar nature puzzled the amateur criminologists whose attention was attracted to the . . . goldfish pond in the center of the court within the studio grounds. Each morning, there would be one or two [fewer] goldfish than on the preceding day.
"The trap was simple in its operation. Lampblack [soot], unnoticeable in the dark, was sifted over the cement around the pond, and the studio sleuths hoped by that means to obtain a trace of the prowler. They were successful, but followed the footprints in shocked surprise. The trail led directly and significantly to the dressing room of Miss Mary Miles Minter . . . the tracks were those of a cat, and when the dressing room was searched, telltale signs of a feast of the stolen fish were found." – Santa Barbara Morning Press, December 24, 1916