Detroit Jewelry Concern Places Loss at About $30,000
Safe Burglars Visit Burr, Patterson & Co.'s Offices in Detroit and Secure Valuable Loot—Police Issue Call to Jewelers to Help Apprehend Robbers
Detroit, Mich., Feb. 22.—The amount of diamonds, pearls, precious gems, and mounted jewelry secured by the expert cracksmen, who looted the safes in the office of Burr, Patterson & Co., manufacturing jewelers, 791 Woodward Ave., on the evening of Sunday, Feb. 16, is estimated to have been about $30,000, instead of from $15,000 to $20,000, as first reported to the police. A brief report of this robbery was given in last week's issue of The Jewelers' Circular.
When it is considered that Burr, Paterson & Co., carried no insurance on their shop or stock of goods, it will be seen plainly that the loss is a serious one for the firm. It will not affect the financial standing of Burr, Patterson & Co., it is said, but rather it may interfere materially with work upon about $75,000 worth of contracts on fraternal, and special order work which they had in hand.
One of the serious results of the robbery, is the fact that the bandits secured $7,000 worth of small pearls, which were used in special order work, and which are veryhard to secure in the American market at this time. These pearls formed a large part of the contracts which the firm had on hand.
It is reported that other firms have offered Burr, Patterson & Co. a share of their stock of pearls in order that they might continue work on their large contracts, but the supply of pearls by other Detroit's firms is said to be very low.
It is said that Burr, Patterson & Co., were one of the few firms in the United States which carried such a large stock of small pearls. It is reported that only nine firms in the country are in possession of these small pearls, most of which are held by one large New York firm on Maiden Lane.
The police have issued a warning to the jewelry trade of the United States to be on the lookout for anyone offering for sale any quanity of small pearls. A circular, with illustrations of the stolen gems is being prepared by the Detroit police department. This circular will be mailed to police departments in every city of the country in the hopes the stolen jewels may be traced.
In the loot taken by the thieves was also $19,000 worth of loose and mounted diamonds. Another large item was about $4,000 worth of manufactured goods.
The stolen jewelry was kept in two large safes of modern design. These safes, however, were not protected by a still alarm system. This fact, coupled with the isolated location of the offices on the second floor of the office building at Woodward and Willis Aves. gave the thieves ample time to work without annoyance from the police.
The police say that the thieves, of whom there are supposed to have been two, entered the building about 12 o'clock Sunday night and worked until nearly morning in prying off with iron crow bars the doors of the two safes. The first report given out was that only one safe had been robbed.
Detective John Donovan, who with Detective William Black, are working on the case, asserts the job was the work of Russian Hebrews, as there were several traces left to show the character of the men. Detective Donovan said that the Russian criminal as a rule always used bars to open a safe or that they used a "can opener" which is the "yeggs" slang for a snarp instrument used in cutting the outer steel frame of a safe. Detective Donovan said that this class of yeggs are afraid to use explosives in gaining entrance to a safe.
The bandits used a ladder against a brick wall at the end of the building which faces on a blind alley. When they gained a footing on the second floor ledge they walked along the coping until they reached the 5th window from the street. They did this so as not to be seen from the entrance of the alley on Willis Ave. They pried the window open with an ordinary "jimmy."
Detective Donovan thinks that the thieves secured the lay of the land by making several small purchases prior to the robbery. No suspicion is attached to any of the employes. The fact that the safes and the offices were unprotected by a still alarm was probably discovered by the thieves through outside sources, think the police.
A. J. Kleffman is president of the company; C. H. Richey is vice-president, while William F. Frey is secretary-treasurer. All of the members of the firm are young men who started in as apprentices in the original firm of Burr, Patterson & Co., and who took over the business themselves about two years ago when Mr. Patterson retired.
The young men have made a splendid success of the business and were just entering a new era of prosperity. They recently placed on the market a service ring for Detroit soldiers which had a large sale. It is reported the young men have an investment of $85,000 in the firm.
This is the first big jewelry robbery in Detroit since the Ralph Dewey holdup a year ago last January. Another outbreak of crime in Detroit has occurred, but so far this is first serious case affecting the jewelry trade here.
It is noted by the police that the Burr Patterson & Co. robbery and the Dewey holdup were both the result of the offices and stores of the victims not being protected by a still alarm system. The location of Burr Patterson & Co.'s offices are in the upper business section of Woodward Avenue., which is bounded east and west by quiet residential neighborhoods. This also was an aid to the bandits during their quiet little Sunday evening job.
Source: The Jewelers' Circular - 26th February 1919