The Thief Who Stole Sherlock’s Watch

Geek Culture

Arsene Lupin — the anti-hero of a series of French crime stories published 100 years ago — really did steal Sherlock Holmes’ watch.

Or perhaps I should say Holmlock Shears. Or perhaps Herlock Sholmes.


Cover of the 2001 Wildside Press edition

You’ll find that Sherlock’s name changes depending on which version of which book you and/or your Geeklet pick up. (Explanation on Wikipedia.) Apparently, the author Maurice Leblanc was as bold a thief as his main character, Lupin.

Can you imagine how mad Arthur Conan Doyle was when he heard that Leblanc had written a story where Lupin steals Sherlock Holmes’ watch?

“[I]t is addressed: Sherlock Holmes, from Arsène Lupin.”

The Englishman took the package, opened it, and found that it contained a watch.

“Ah!” he exclaimed, with an angry gesture.

“A watch,” said Devanne. “How did it come there?”

The detective did not reply.

Lupin is a real thief. Not a Robin Hood and not a guy with a bunch of philosophical excuses. He just likes to steal things and he’s awfully good at it.

There are movies and videogames about Arsene Lupin, but a good place to start is with the book The Extraordinary Adventures of Arsene Lupin, Gentleman-Burglar. More books follow. English translations are available on both Project Gutenberg and the free audio book site,

If you want to see Lupin and Holmes/Sholmes/Shears go head to head, you’ll want to read The Blonde Lady.

Even after 100+ years the twists and turns in these stories still surprise. And despite their age, they are fun, easy reads.

You may want to preview the stories before handing them over to your kids, but frankly these stories could probably get by with a G rating except for the minor fact that they make stealing seem like a lot of fun.

By the way, if you’re a real geek, you’re probably wondering what the connection is between this Lupin and anime’s Lupin the 3rd. Lupin the 3rd is Lupin’s grandson. (What happened to Lupin Jr. I can’t say.)

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