Canaan, CT Post Office Block Robbery, Explosion and Fire, Mar 1903


In Blowing Open Canaan (Conn.) Post Office Safe They Start a $10,000 Fire and Escape.

Special to The New York Times.

DERBY, Conn., March 3.---In a bold raid by burglars at 3 o'clock this morning in Canaan, this State, not only was the Canaan Post Office robbed of $1,000, but the building in which it was located, containing also the Canaan Savings Bank and R. F. Collin's jewelry store, was destroyed by fire, a nearby dwelling partially destroyed, a livery stable, a car barn, and a dwelling house robbed, and attempts made to rob two other buildings. Then, by driving across country at a terrific pace, the burglars reached Winsted in time to escape aboard a train for New York.

The burglars, of whom there were three, walked from Ashley Falls, Mass. There they had entered the house of John Turner, taking clothing and food. They also attempted to enter the residence of Arthur Parson and the general store of Frank Smith, but were frightened off. On entering Canaan they broke into the car barn of the Central New England Railroad Company, taking two crowbars. With these they pried an entrance to the Cummings Block, containing the Post Office, savings bank, and jewelry store. Nearby residents heard two muffled explosions, but paid no heed till passing milkmen found the Cummings Block a mass of flames.

Because of inadequate fire apparatus, the building and its entire contents, including the United States mail, were destroyed. A frame dwelling next door, also owned by Sherwood Cummings of South Norwalk, and used as a boarding house, was partly burned. The business block of G. L. Parson & Son, on the other side, was badly scorched.

When the ruins had cooled it was found that the Post Office safe had been dynamited and the entire contents taken. In the absence of Postmaster Henry Roraback, the clerks estimate the cash and stamps stolen at $1,000. While all interest was centered in fighting the flames the burglars coolly entered the Warner Hotel livery stables, led out all the horses, which were found later in the yard, and, selecting the best, hitched it to a light road wagon. This was found later hitched near the Naugatuck Railway Station, in Winsted, where the thieves are supposed to have taken a train for New York. No further trace has been found.

All the stock of Collin's jewelry store lies burned and melted in the ruins. He estimates his loss at $2,500. The bank safe was found intact, but the bank furnishings were destroyed, at a loss of $2,000. The loss on the Cummings building is $5,000. All the burned property was partially insured.

The New York Times, New York, NY 4 Mar 1903