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A look back on Cleveland crime

Anthony Sowell's trial is scheduled to begin in June.  Until then, or as the pre-trial motions develop, let's take a look back at past crimes in Cleveland.

A search of the New York Times archive found an article published April 11, 1870 concerning a bank robbery the previous Friday (April 8th) of the Citizens' Savings & Loan Association bank at Atwater Block.  The savings and loan has long since closed and Atwater Block is no longer named that, and has not for some time.  There was an Atwater Building at Superior & Water St. (likely now West 9th St.), so perhaps around there.

What is most surprising is that the robbers were able to walk out with $20,000 cash(quite a sum for 1870, probably pay deposits) at 12:30 in the afternoon thanks all to good timing on their part and negligent conduct on behalf of the staff.

Everyone in the bank was out to lunch except the cashier, a Mr. W.C. Leper.  A gentleman came up to him and began a conversation about depositing money on behalf of his sister at the bank.  The conversation went on for about five minutes until a second man approached from the Director's room and told the presumed customer that "It is all satisfactory."

Mr. Leper soon realized what was going on and attempted to catch the robbers who had made their way out of the bank.  The robbers and the money were recovered later that day.

The money was left in the Director's room in the morning and would have gone into the vault when the clerks came back from lunch a few minutes later.  The robbers were smart for figuring the bank would have few staff between noon and 1pm as people got lunch, but for the bank staff to leave that sort of money in an apparently unlocked room during the lunch break and not depositing it first is just sloppy practice today.  That stunt would cost plenty of jobs in a modern bank today.

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