Lawrence County News: June 23, 1920
Bank robbers visited the State Bank of Birds some time Wednesday night and helped themselves to the contents of safety deposit boxes, securing about $20,000 in government bonds, war savings stamps and money.
The burglars were very methodical in their work. They first visited the Wagonseller blacksmith shop and secured the necessary sledges, chisels, etc. to break open the back door of the bank, then used nitro -glycerin or some other explosive to open the outer door of the vault. A second charge was necessary to open the inner door which is secured with a yale lock. The boxes were then broken open and the contents thoroughly gone over. No attempt was made to open the safe and a number of bonds and other securities were overlooked in the boxes. When the burglars had completed their work, the doors of the vault were closed and even the time-lock was put in place on the outer door.
The burglary was not discovered until Thursday morning at 8 o’clock when R. W. Pinkstaff, cashier of the bank, attempted to open the vault. Sheriff Stivers was notified, but a strict search failed to reveal a single clue as to the identity of the party or parties concerned in the job. No explosion was heard by the residents of the village and no strangers were noticed abut town on Wednesday.
Monday, a bank adjuster went over the records with the bank officers and according to their report, the burglars secured about $20,000 in bonds, stamps, and coin, but at least $15,000 worth of the bonds are registered and also some of the stamps, so that the net loss will be in the neighborhood of three to four thousand dollars. The bank funds are covered by “burglar insurance”, but this does not cover the safety deposit boxes which are guaranteed against fire only.
The Board of Directors of the bank offered a reward of $300 for the conviction of each of the persons guilty of robbing the vaults, and the Illinois Bankers’ Association offered an additional $350.
( Ed Note: Remember this was a time when there was no air conditioners, few people had electric fans, and most people slept with their windows open in the summertime. Yet no one in Birds heard two explosions? Amazing!)