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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in Spokane: Investigators hope fingerprints can solve the heist from 80 safes in Paulsen Building

Police were turning to a modern technology – fingerprinting – to help solve the baffling mystery of the Paulsen Building heist, the Spokane Daily Chronicle reported on July 25, 1922.  (Spokesman-Review archives)
Police were turning to a modern technology – fingerprinting – to help solve the baffling mystery of the Paulsen Building heist, the Spokane Daily Chronicle reported on July 25, 1922. (Spokesman-Review archives)
By Jim Kershner The Spokesman-Review

Police were turning to a modern technology – fingerprinting – to help solve the baffling mystery of the Paulsen Building heist.

Yeggmen (safecrackers) broke into 80 safes on nine floors over the weekend and made off with $100,000 worth of cash and valuables.

Wesley H. Turner had obtained more than 100 prints and was working on the rest of the vaults to find more. If the burglar was a previous offender, he could be identified through prison records.

Police needed all of the help they could get.

“We know there has been a big burglary, but that is all we know,” confessed Martin Burns, captain of detectives. “We are without a clew (clue) of any kind.”

Police were working on the assumption that whoever did it knew a lot about safes and locks. It might also have been someone with his own safe in the building. Anyone with a safe could have made a master key for all of the safes.

If it was an “out-of-town gang of experts,” finding them would be greatly complicated, police said. The gang already would be long gone with their loot.

August Paulsen, building owner, was offering a reward of $5,000 for information leading to arrest and conviction.

In a related story, the Spokane Daily Chronicle reported that local banks had done a huge amount of business in safety deposit boxes since the Paulsen heist news broke.

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