Pages Navigation Menu

Catt Burglar?

While perusing the internet last night, looking for anything related to Cattaraugus Cutlery and the Champlin family, I happened upon this newspaper article from 1903. Apparently burglars in the small town of Willmar Minnesota knew what was valuable at the local hardware store.

What value would you put on 150 Cattaraugus pocket knives? Check out the last line in the article to see the value placed on the knives by the hardware store owners.


Willmar Tribune, November 25, 1903
Willmar, Minn


Burglars break into Lundquist Bros.’ Hardware Store and Make a Big Haul.

The hardware store of Lundquist Bros. was entered by burglars late last Saturday night and stock to the amount of some over $150 was carried off. Entrance was affected by cutting a hole in the panel of the rear door leading into the tin shop and reaching inside to unlock the door. The articles found missing include pocket knives, razors and revolvers.

The burglary was thought to have been committed sometime between 9:15 and 10:30 on Saturday night. Eric Sandberg, an employee of the store had closed the place about 9:15. It was about 10:30 when he had occasion to again to into the store before leaving for home. He found the back door unlocked, but thinking that some one connected with the stare was responsible for this and what the person was about the premises at the time, thought no more about it and suspected nothing out of the ordinary. He however again locked the door and saw that the place was secure before leaving. All of this time he had not noticed the hole in the door which had been cut sufficiently large to admit a hand through, it being dark in the back room when he made his visit there. The door was locked by means of a bolt, and it was an easy matter to unbolt the same.

It was Sunday afternoon before the burglary was discovered. Sandberg then again visited the store and it was then that he first noticed that a hole had been cut in the door. A fishing knife was found lying the work bench close by, and as this one was a brand new one it was easily seen that it had been removed from among the stock in the front part of the store. This had probably been forgotten by the burglars, or had been left in beating a hasty retreat. The inside door, separating the main store from the shop, had been unhooked in such a manner as to show that considerable force had been used, for the staple was found loosened from its fastenings.

An investigation led to the discovery that the show case which is in the front part of the store had been rifled of its contents. As near as can be learned about 150 pocket knives, 10 revolvers and 30 razors had been extracted. Lundquist Bros., to whom the affair was soon reported, estimate the property stolen to be valued at somewhere in the vicinity of $150. All the paper boxes in which the articles had been contained were found strewn about he floor, and the condition of things where the discovery of the theft was made indicated that the parties had taken their time in choosing the best cutlery. Nearly all the knives in the stock contained in the case bear the mark of Cattaraugus Cutlery Co. and the proprietors announce that other marks are on the stolen stock by which detection could be made.

The affair was soon reported to the authorities and the police and sheriff are on the lookout for suspicious characters. As the discovery was made so late, ample time had been given the thieves to make good their escape. Sheriff Lundquist has a good description of the stolen property and the proper notices have been sent to other places. At this writing no clue has been found leading to the detection of the criminals.

A bright street light is kept burning in front of the store and the work of the burglars must have been very clever in escaping notice from passers by. Ole Selin, who lives on the north side of the store, says that the family heard some noise during the evening, and this may possible have been the bursting of the inside door. As the noise was not loud enough to attract more than ordinary attention, nothing further was thought of it. The burglars by this time may be many miles away from Willmar or there may be a possibility of the work having been done by amateurs. That it was done by some one with a knowledge of the surroundings is very evident. A stranger had bee seen in the store late in the afternoon and had remained in the building long enough to size things up pretty well, but no good description can be given of him, as no particular notice had been taken of him.

Lundquist Bros. estimate the loss as follows: Cutlery $75; razors, $50; revolvers, $30. There may possibly be other articles taken, but so far nothing else has been missed.