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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in Spokane: Police nab burglers who targeted snowbirds

UPDATED: Tue., Feb. 16, 2021

Published in the Feb. 16, 1921 Spokane Daily Chronicle.  (S-R archives)
Published in the Feb. 16, 1921 Spokane Daily Chronicle. (S-R archives)
By Jim Kershner The Spokesman-Review

Police foiled a gang of housebreakers engaged in “wholesale plundering of Spokane homes owned by people who are wintering in California.”

A 27-year-old tailor and a 22-year-old mechanic were arrested in connection with these burglaries, and more charges were expected.

Three homes on the lower South Hill, left unoccupied for the winter, were almost emptied of valuables, including phonographs, silverware, jewelry, carpets, fancy rugs and china.

“In many instances, we have found evidences that a truck has been used to carry away the bulky goods,” said the captain of detectives.

In some cases, the burglars did their work in a “leisurely” fashion at the same house over several nights.

Most of the plundered items were recovered in a house near Second Avenue and Cowley Street, and other items had been found in various pawn shops and secondhand stores.

Police were tipped off when stolen items showed up at secondhand stores. In one case, a Spokane violinmaker named Blair went to a secondhand store and recognized a violin he had made – and knew and recalled who he had made it for.

From the crime beat: The saga of a young thief named Elliot Mitchener (sometimes spelled Michener) took a turn.

Two months earlier, Elliot (variously described as 11, 14 or 15), had been arrested for stealing $4,300 from a company in Philadelphia for which he was a messenger boy. He was arrested in New York with $3,600 in his suitcase. Then he was apparently sent to Coeur d’Alene, to be held in the custody of his father.

Now Elliot was missing again – along with $12,600 of his father’s Liberty bonds. Police believed he had already sold some of the bonds and was headed back to Philadelphia. A search was on.

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