Ice Box Thieves Operate Wholesale

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The Fort Dodge Messenger: Aug. 1, 1905

Ice Box Thieves Operate Wholesale

Five Familiies (sic) in East End of City Find Storage Boxes Tampered With

Entirely Looted of Contents

Hoboes (sic) Thought to Be the Guilty Parties – Made no Discrimination but Took Everything in Sight – People Should Telephone

After a relaxation of several weeks, from the inroads of the burglar and the petty sneak thief Fort Dodge people have again begun to be troubled by those who believe rather in making their living by dishonest practices and at the expense of others than through honest labor. For several nights, recently, inroads upon the stores of ice boxes, of Fort Dodge residents have been made but last night the practice was carried on in a wholesale manner. Five houses in the east part of the city were visited by the refrigerator thieves and the ice boxes entirely looted of their contents.

At the Larrabee, Price and H. Weiss homes, with several others, the names of whose occupants we have been unable to learn, the thieves came boldly onto the rear porches and into the cellarways taking anything and everything within the coolers that they fancied, and leaving them as bare as the proverbial cupboard of mother goose fame.

In most every case not only eatables but dishes and such commodities as lard, molasses, eggs and a stray bottle of blue ribbon or two were removed. The ice box thief usually confines his larceny to bread, potatoes, cooked meats, pastry and such other edibles as can be eaten without cooking or preparation, but these fellows seem to be of a new class and no doubt are laying up a supply for a coming famine, should they strike a territory where the people take unkindly to their requests for donations.

A search of the wood in the vicinity of the city would probably result in finding three or four weary Willies ensconced in some cosy nook surrounded by groceries and supplies, in ample proportions, and engaged in preparing a delicious meal with what they had taken from the supplies for Fort Dodge tables. At one place a fine six pound roast of meat, purchased that very day from the butcher is reported as among the things taken. Juicy porterhouse, pork chops, tea and coffee, pies and cake all went to garnish the woodland board of the hoboes (sic), for such the thieves are supposed to be.

Two hungry looking specimens of the genus tramp, called at several east end residences yesterday morning and it is thought that they are the fellows whose hands have found their way into the storage boxes. Mayor Bennett stated to a Messenger man this morning that the people of the city were in a large measure to blame for such results.

“If they had telephoned to the city hall when the fellows called there we would have placed them in safe keeping and the ice box thefts would not have occurred” said he. “Instead of doing this, however, they let them go. only to have them return in the evening and help themselves to all that they could lay their hands on.” Local residents are cautioned to notify police headquarters when suspicious characters or loafers are seen in their neighborhoods under pain of suffering similar inroads upon their stocks of provisions.

(Editor’s note: This is not the first time this was an issue.)

City directory information on the likely victims:

In the 1908 city directory, there were two Larrabees. It’s most likely Charles Larrabee, a vice president at Iowa Savings Bank, living at 1508 Fourth Ave. S. The name Winston is in parenthesis after Charles, which is usually where a spouse’s name would go. I’m guessing that Winston was his grown son, living at home. In the 1909 directory, they are living at 1222 Sixth Ave. S.

There are three Price listings in the 1908 directory. Bertram J. Price, wife Jessie, lived at 1435 Fourth Ave. S. He was the county attorney, with an office at 305-306 in the First National Bank Building. In the 1909 directory, he is listed as attorney at law, with his office in the same location. They had moved to 1215 Sixth Ave. S.

Henry L. Weiss and wife Ida E. lived at 1411 Fourth Ave. S. in 1908. He worked at Thompson, Kehm & Co. In 1909, he worked as a clerk at Plymouth Clothing House, but they are still at the same address. There are 14 listings for Weiss in 1908 and 10 in 1909

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