News: Unity, Wis. (Bank Burglary Attempt - 1951)
Surnames: Mueller, Wieland, Talcott, Tennis, Wiedenhoeft
----Sources: Colby Phonograph (Colby, Clark County, Wis.) 12/27/1951
Unity, Wis. - The third effort in 22 years to burglarize the Unity branch of the Colby State Bank apparently failed Tuesday night when the intruders gave up trying to chisel their way through a steel door and a reinforced concrete wall. Officials awaited the arrival of a locksmith from Minneapolis before they could estimate the damage.
The burglars entered the bank through a window on the south side of the building and were evidently interested in the contents of the vault only, for nothing else was disturbed. Bank officials did not reveal how much money the vault contained.
After taking the hinges off the vault door and hacking on the combination lock on the steel door without success, the burglars apparently turned their attention to the concrete wall which encases the vault. They chiseled away about 6 inches before giving up. Had they been successful in getting into the vault they still would have had to contend with the safe.
Marathon County Sheriff Carl Mueller, who investigated the attempted burglary Wednesday morning, took one look at the mess the would-be thieves had made and declared it was obviously the work of amateurs.
Mueller examined the vault door for fingerprints but found only smears and coarse prints, indicating that the burglars wore gloves. The only other clue was a small drill bit found on the inside window sill.
The forced entry was discovered about 7:30 o’clock Wednesday morning by Walter Wieland, 55, who noticed the broken window while on his way to work. He notified Deputy Moller Talcott, who in turn notified M. J. Tennis, the bank’s cashier. Tennis told Sheriff Mueller that he had been in the bank Tuesday afternoon although it was closed for business because of the holiday, and everything was in order.
Gilbert Wiedenhoeft, who lives in the upper apartment next door, reported that his wife had heard a pounding that sounded like it was on metal, between 12:30 and 12:45 Wednesday morning. She thought it was something hitting against an iron railing outside, however, and did not become alarmed.
The intruders were apparently so intent on breaking into the vault that they failed to notice about $20 in cash which was lying on the counter. Tennis reported that the Christmas tree lights in the building were on all night, and that the night light next to the vault door was still on in the morning.
Tuesday night’s attempt at burglary was the third one made in the last 22 years, but the first one that failed. At least, officials do not think the vault was entered.
In 1929 and in 1934 burglars broke into the vault and made off with money. In the same years daylight robberies were also committed. In the first year a lone bandit held up the bank and made a successful getaway only to be captured a short time later. Two months prior to the 1934 burglary, a robbery was also perpetrated by an armed man.
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