The Crime Wave of December 1929

Published 5:07 pm Wednesday, March 13, 2019

In a weekend, in December 1929, a crime wave hit Orange.

Front page news was the theft of a safe, cash register, a car and a truck in one crime and the robbery of the Greyhound bus station as another.

“Yeggmen at work in Orange Saturday night and Sunday morning succeeded in making their escape after stealing and robbing a safe and cash register and stealing a car and a truck.”

The robbers, called “Yeggmen” in those days, had robbed the A.C. Roberts grocery at 16th and Link Streets by removing a safe and cash register. The safe was believed to contain about $300 – $400 dollars in cash. The cash register had an undetermined amount of coins stolen.

The safe and cash register were found on the east side of Adams Bayou, south of the Sunset Grove clubhouse a few yards south of the Old Spanish Trail.

The bottom of the safe had been beaten in with a 16-pound sledgehammer and an ax, the door had also been removed. The cash register had been opened without damage.

Cash in the safe had been taken but a $50 Liberty Bond had been overlooked.

The robbers had first stolen a truck from the State Highway Department office in West Orange. The truck was believed to have been taken for use in hauling the heavy safe, which weighed about 400 pounds.

The truck had been parked and left by the robbers for later use. It was recovered about 11 p.m. by the Orange Police Department.

Finding the truck gone, the robbers then stole a Studebaker touring car from the garage at the home of Frank Depwe located at Burton and 15th Streets. The car was used to haul the safe and cash register to the location where they had been found after the robberies had been discovered.

V.G. Conway, the watchman at the Sunset Grove clubhouse saw someone driving a car south away from the clubhouse. He later heard hammering coming from south of the clubhouse. Conway made a report to the police and his information led to the discovery of the safe and cash register.

About 3 a.m. three men driving a Studebaker touring car filled up the car’s gas tank at the Peveto Filling Station at 10th and Park Streets.

The car was later traced to Jasper by Frank Depwe who had spent much of Sunday searching for his car.

In the car was a .45 caliber Colt semi-automatic pistol and some valuable tools, according to Depwe.

Patrolman Clarence Cochran, of Orange, retrieved the car from Jasper and drove it to the Orange courthouse. The only thing missing from the car was Depwe’s pistol.

“The men had not been apprehended up to this afternoon, it is believed that they would be in the custody of officers within the next few hours” was the hopeful prediction of the closing paragraph of the story.

Sometime early that same Sunday morning the Greyhound Bus Station located on Fifth Street in the Bancroft Building had been robbed. The cash box and been opened and $39 was stolen.

Station Agent Ray Moses had left the station for a short while to hunt for small change. Upon his return, he discovered that the cash box had been opened and all the cash was taken. The box had either been pried open or opened with a spare key.

Moses believed that someone had either hidden in the restroom or in the alley adjoining the building and worked quickly when he left the building.

No clues to the identity of the robber were found.

“And now you know.”