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Heat Waves Bring Crime Waves

Heat Waves Bring Crime Waves

100 years ago the Oak Park Oak Leaves published a story titled “Thieves Are Fired On.” The article details the tale of three daring thieves attempting to capitalize on the 1917 July 4th celebrations taking place at nearby Steele’s Woods. Perhaps due to the unseasonal cold, a large amount of ice cream went unconsumed during the day’s festivities.

Later that night a watchman spied three scoundrels fleeing with a can of ice cream. The watchman gave chase and was soon joined by two police officers who were patrolling in the area, Officers Dwyer and Schlack. The police officers opened fire on the cold blooded ice cream thieves, who in turn drew their revolvers and fired back on the police. After a brief chase and exchange of gunfire the thieves escaped into the darkness to enjoy their ill-gotten delicacy.

A second instance of summer crime occurred 80 years ago in 1937, when the Oak Leaves published a story titled “Police Seize Boy Burglars Who Robbed Twenty Stores.” The story details the criminal antics of two thirteen year old boys, Terrence McCauley and Rudolph Pappas, who were arrested when they attempted to sell a .38 caliber revolver. They admitted to a string of twenty robberies, including targets such as a tea store on Madison and Oak Park Hardware. McCauley was a ward of the Working Boys’ home in Chicago, and Pappas a ward of the Parental School in Chicago. They would enter the building by shooting the glass storefront door with a revolver, and then ransack the store looking for candy, money, and cigarettes. 

The young criminals also admitted to firing at a delicatessen owner in order to “give him a jump.” When Detectives Bickal and Barsema, the arresting officers, pointed out that both boys could have easily gotten the electric chair had they actually shot someone Pappas replied that he “wouldn’t have minded the hot seat if I was holding you in my lap.” They attempted to escape police custody twice, once by just running through the Austin Patrol Barn where they were being held, second by hiding under the bed when the police came to their cell, hoping a newer officer would foolishly leave their cell door open when he left to search the station for them. Fortunately neither of these plots succeeded and the two criminal masterminds were sentenced to a juvenile home.