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Farnam Bank Robbed, Theives Get Near $1500 In Loot

Vault Broken Into Friday Night And
Thieves Escape With Quantity
Bonds And $91 In Cash

The Farnam Bank was broken into last Friday sometime between midnight and morning, by at least two men. Entrance to the building was gained by prying the front door with a small crowbar as marks were left on the door casing. They then evidently used a screwdriver or knife blade to push the lock back.

After gaining entrance the vault was drilled into with an electric drill. The work was done so neatly and with such accuracy that the lock was cut nearly half in-two by the drill. Only one hole was drilled. The balance of the lock was sawed and broken off. After entering the vault it was only necessary to pick up the cash which they took, for it had been left setting on a shelf near the safe as there was not room for it inside. Although there was several hundred dollars in small change setting on or near the safe, they only took $40 in nickles (sic) and another package containing $51 in other small change. However, they rifled a number of the customer’s safety deposit boxes, scattering the papers on the floor, in an effort to find government bonds. They evidently left the bank in a hurry for they apparently did not make any effort to open the safe, which contained the bulk of the money. They carried away about thirty of the deposit boxes which contained at least $1,000 worth of Liberty bonds which were not registered, making them as good as cash to the holder, as well as $250.00 worth of registered Liberty bonds. There were many other valuable papers in these boxes, which of course will be worthless to the burglars.

The electric drill used in the opening of the vault was taken from the Parker Garage. They undoubtedly used the small drill first but broke the bit off so took the large drill to finish up the job. They also took a hammer, brace and bit and a chisel, all of which were found in the alley Saturday morning, excepting the big drill, which was probably kept for future use. This tool was valued at $80. Entrance to the garage was gained thru a glass window. The putty had been dug out and the glass removed without breaking it.

The Burlington section tool and car house was broken into. A bar had been run thru the padlock twisting it off. Here they took about 2½ gallons of cylinder oil, three coats and jackets belonging to the section men, a large pinch bar and a heavy jack used in lifting the tracks. It is thot they had planned to use this to pull the frame of the vault in case they were unable to open it with the drill. These tools were found in the bank the next morning. One of the jackets was also found there and it is quite probable they had used them to muffle the noise of the drill while they were working.

The burglars were pretty well onto their job for they cut both the telephone and telegraph wires before breaking into the bank. However, in cutting the phone lines they failed to notice the toll lines which were about six feet higher up on the poles than the cable which carried the local lines. It is thought that they may have taken these to be the electric leads, so did not bother them. The large cable, containing 400 pairs of wires was cut with a hack saw at the alley back of the phone office. The telegraph wires were cut on both sides of the depot. Several rods of the wire were cut completely out of the line east of the depot and was left in a tangled mass near the tool house.

J. B. Kitchen, better known as "Grandpa Kitchen" was the first to discover the robbery. He stated that he waked up several times during the night—and seemed to be frightened. He could not account for this restlessness, but became worried about some keepsakes and papers which he had at the bank so early Saturday morning he went down town to the bank and found the door standing open so went in thinking that they had opened up early, but did not find anyone so went into Parker’s Store, which is next door and ask where Mr. Parker or Mr. Rowland were and was told that they had not come down yet. It was not until then that the robbery was discovered. Although the telephones were out of commission it was not long until the town was all excitement.

As soon as the robbery was discovered word was phoned to County Sheriff, Leslie Burns, who came over as soon as possible along with some detectives who looked the situation over and took a number of finger prints as there had been plenty of them left in various places.

The telephone company was also notified of the affair and extra men were rushed here from Gothenburg, Lexington and Holdrege. Area wire chief, Wooly, from the Northwestern Bell from Holdrege, took charge of the work of repairing the damaged cable and in about 18 hours the service was restored temporarily.

Although the contents of the safety deposit boxes was strewn around about the bank Saturday morning, the bank papers were not molested and it was only a few hours until the bank was operating normally. The numbers of the bonds that were taken have been sent to a large number of the banks over the country in an effort to identify them when they are cashed.

A couple of strangers who were in town last week possing (sic) as salesmen have been suspected, but up to the present time officials have been unable to locate them.

The Farnam Echo 39(43):1, Thursday, 2 September 1926


Published: 8/12/2022 -
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