Faurot, Joseph A.
b. October 14, 1872
d. November 20, 1942
New York City
Highland Falls, New York
Police detective who introduced the use of finger-printing in the United States. He was the first to use fingerprints to identify a criminal, and the first to obtain a conviction with fingerprint evidence. Faurot rose to become a deputy police commissioner before his retirement in 1926.
Inspector Joseph Faurot’s Latest – an “Unstealable” Car
(From the Syracuse Herald, 22 August 1920)
Here are Deputy Police Commissioner Joseph A. Faurot and Lieut. James J. Skegan and the “Unstealable” car with Diamond Dick in position to baffle any car thief who comes along during their absence.
THERE is one finger print expert in the United States for whom every crook, from the lowly “dip” to the high class bank burglar entertains a most wholesome respect. He is Joseph A. Fauroth, best known as Inspector Faurot, but recently elevated to the rank of third deputy commissioner of the New York Department of Police.
Many crooks who manage to evade old-time methods of detection have thrown up their hands and admitted their identity when the finger print expert began telling them things about their past which they hoped had been forgotten.
And now the inspector, after studying the habits of automobile thieves for several months in co-operation with Lieut. James J. Skegan of the Police training school, has evolved a contrivance which, it is declared, will drive car thieves out of business. Lieutenant Skegan, by the way, is something more than a joint inventor. He is the owner of no less than four congressional medals awarded to him for conspicuous bravery, and between the two of them they have produced and patented a little contrivance to be attached to the mudguard over the left front wheel of a motor car. They have named it the Faurot-Skegan safety-scope.
The safety attachment is only a few inches high and might easily be mistaken for the familiar mirror which enables a car driver to see at a glance what is behind him. It does not look as if it could safely be trusted to prevent thieves from stealing the car, but, in the words of Commissioner Faurot, it isn’t always safe for car thieves to judge by appearance.
The interior mechanism of the safety-scope does a whole lot of things which from superficial inspection would not seem possible. The four little diagrams appearing at the top of this page tell the story of what happens when car thieves come around.
The two police inventors know from personal experience the “auto-laugh” the automobile thieves have been giving to various previous attempts to safeguard automobiles against theft. They believe they have found a way to stop this “auto-laugh,” or at least to make the laugh come hard.
One of the most successful automobile thieves in the country was caught not long ago in New York city and the safety-scope contrivance was shown and explained to him.
“How would you proceed in order to steal a car protected in this way?” he was asked by the inventors.
After some thought the thief answered: “I guess I would go after a car that did not have the safety-scope protection.”
There is another type of undesirable connected with the automobile world who is also affected by the safety-scope. The ‘joy rider’.’ Gone are the good times at the expense of the car’s owner.
Here is the description of the safety-scope given verbatim by the police-inventors:
It consists of a contrivance for shutting off the motor power and a set of signals which indicate whether or not the lawful owner is in charge of the vehicle. Also immediately upon being tampered with the device automatically sets off an audible alarm siren.
Making Car Thefts Difficult.
The signals consist of two circular disks, an upper and lower one, and a diamond-shaped disk which is substituted for the upper disk when the car is left unattended. The lower disk is permanently affixed to an indispensable part of the vehicle. It contains a burglar-proof lock and the upper disks when in place are locked to it. On its face is the owner’s distinctive mark, his monogram or any other emblem that suits his fancy.
When the car is lawfully in motion the upper circular disk is attached. The disk can be seen some distance away even when the car is going at a good speed.
The diamond-shaped disk is white in color. On the face of the diamond is the inscription: “Tell a policeman if this car moves carrying the diamond disk.” When the owner or his agent parks the car or leaves it unattended in a garage or elsewhere, he removes the upper circular disk, slips it into his pocked, and thereby automatically shuts off the motor power. He then substitutes the diamond disk, locking it into the lower disk. This whole operation is extremely simple. It can be accomplished in a flash and becomes quite as commonplace as the unlocking of the switch or turning over the motor.
The diamond disk displayed is a signal that the car should not be in motion. Should a thief attempt to drive off with a car displaying the diamond disk he would find that the motor power is shut off. If he should by some ingenious method be successful in removing the diamond disk he sets the automobile alarm horn in operation, sounding a distress signal for blocks.
Should a thief manage to hammer the safety-scope off the car, which would be an extremely difficult task, as it is made of steel and firmly riveted to the mudguard, he would find that doing so would not enable him to steal the car, as knocking off the safety-scope automatically shuts off the motor power, leaves telltale holes in the mudguard and starts a red light burning.