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100 years ago in Spokane: Young burglar, unreformed, goes on city-wide crime spree

A daring young burglar engaged in an extensive – if short-lived – crime spree on his return from reform school. (Spokesman-Review archives)
A daring young burglar engaged in an extensive – if short-lived – crime spree on his return from reform school. (Spokesman-Review archives)

Alvin Shroberg, 16, was sent by his father to a reform school in Chehalis, Washington, after he committed several house burglaries. He came back to Spokane after only two months and then really went on a crime spree.

He burglarized 11 stores – mostly candy and grocery stores – and also stole two motorcycles and two autos. The latter proved to be his downfall.

He stole a Ford from a garage and ran it into a ditch on the Palouse Highway just south of the city. Then he made his way back into town and stole a car parked in front of Sacred Heart Hospital. Unfortunately for him, the owner of the car was standing at a hospital window, watching him. Police arrested him soon after.

He confessed to all of the burglaries and vehicle thefts and implicated two other boys for receiving stolen goods, mostly tobacco and candy.

From the transportation beat: The Good Roads Association proposed a sweeping $30 million plan to build permanent hard-surfaced roads all over the state.

Three of the most ambitious highways would go through Spokane: the Sunset Highway, connecting Spokane to Seattle; the Inland Empire Highway, which would take a circuitous route from Ellensburg to the Yakima Valley to Walla Walla, the Palouse and then north to Spokane and the Canadian border; and the Central Washington Highway, angling directly from Pasco to Spokane.

The association proposed paying for it through gas taxes, tire taxes and auto sales taxes.


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