Newton Gang Robs Two Banks in One Evening

On January 9, 1921, the Newton Gang entered Hondo, Texas, a small city 30 miles west of San Antonio, to rob one among two banks within the metropolis. It was simply after midnight and the temperature was round freezing.

The Newtons knew the night time watchman in Hondo, and as was his customized, they discovered him huddled round a pot-bellied range within the depot. They lower all the phone wires after which went again to test on the night time watchman. He hadn’t moved from his spot by the range, so Joe was put throughout the road as a lookout whereas the remaining went to the sofa.

In his 1979 interview, Willis proudly shared his model of the story:

“Generally you are simply fortunate as a result of they left the protected door open. They unlocked it so we did not want nitro or something. We pushed open the window, walked over to the protected, tried the deal with and it opened! You would be amazed standing what number of occasions these benches would simply shut the door so it regarded locked at night time.

“We cleaned the protected very quickly and went to see if the night time watchman was nonetheless within the depot. Certain sufficient, he was studying {a magazine} and consuming espresso by the range. Properly, rattling, we thought we had loads of time, so we might go to the opposite financial institution and check out it. I stored Joe and Doc on the night time marshal whereas Jess and I went to the opposite financial institution.

“We went into that financial institution and cleaned it. Rattling, two benches in a single night time and the night time marshal, he by no means will get out of the depot!’

The native newspaper, the Hondo Anvil Heraldbore the story with a splash head:

Yeggs Rob Hondo Banks

One of the vital daring robberies ever in Texas happened right here on Sunday morning

The individuals of Hondo had been astonished and offended Sunday morning when it was revealed that each banks had been invaded by yeggs between midnight and daylight and robbed of each cash and valuables. Entry to the First Nationwide Financial institution was by forcing the entrance doorways; whereas entry to the State Financial institution was gained by breaking open the bars over the past window within the alley between Parker’s and the financial institution.

The newspaper went on to offer an in depth description of the theft:

Since a lot of the cash in each banks was within the vaults, with time locks set, the money loss was not critical, the First Nationwide misplaced $2,814 in complete, whereas the Staatsbank a little bit happier, the loss is $1,879; each banks misplaced a complete of $4,694, virtually all of them silver cash.

Each banks’ funds had been lined by a break-in insurance coverage coverage, so neither will undergo a loss. [Just like Willis had assured his brothers.]

Non-public field homeowners, who had put their valuables within the vaults of the banks, are the worst losers, and their precise loss is not going to be recognized for a while – in all probability a month – because the homeowners of the containers are the one ones who can. clearing any loss, because the financial institution officers aren’t conscious of the contents of the containers.

The homeowners of the lockers had money, authorities bonds, conflict financial savings stamps, jewellery and different valuables of their containers, so it was unattainable to find out the precise quantity taken within the theft. Estimates as excessive as $30,000 had been by no means confirmed.

The article went on to explain the “safe specialists:”

… That the robbers had been specialists is evidenced by the truth that they had been in a position to work the mix on the vault of the First Nationwide Financial institution. [Willis said it was left unlocked.] They had been additionally specialists in the usage of explosives, the vault doorways of the Staatsbank had been blown open by probably the most highly effective explosives we all know: TNT [ Willis swore in his interview that he never used dynamite-only nitroglycerine.]

The vaults had been searched completely and the flooring had been strewn with papers about two ft thick.

The thoroughness with which the robbers looked for securities reveals that they spent two hours or extra within the vaults of the banks and that the personal containers of the purchasers are in a sorry state, most of which present that they had been opened by a heavy instrument. , in all probability with a sledgehammer stolen from the Masks & Co forge.

… That the robbers weren’t tyros (archaic phrase that means inexperienced persons) in robbing is once more confirmed by the truth that they took each precaution to keep away from being apprehended by the possession of jewels, gold cash, and so forth, which might result in their id. The flooring of the vaults had been actually affected by objects that might result in their discovery. Banknotes and different valuables that might not be transformed into cash had been discarded and left behind.

It’s usually believed that the band consisted of six to eight males and that each banks had been robbed on the identical time, with a gang assigned to every financial institution.

One other circumstance indicating that the robbers weren’t new to the financial institution theft recreation is corroborated by the truth that each phone line within the metropolis was apparently lower earlier than the banks had been robbed. And this a part of their plans was carried out most successfully and by an knowledgeable operator.

… Cables had been lower, apparently with saws, and a few wires had been lower with wire cutters. Solely three telephones linked to the native alternate had been working Sunday morning.

The theft was found by the night time watchman about 5 a.m. Sunday morning and instantly reported to Deputy Sheriff CJ Bless.

…Harry Crouch, our native telegraph operator, was summoned and messages had been despatched east and west in an try to intercept the robbers, however so far as most people was suggested, nothing was discovered concerning the path by which the robbers had been headed. went .

Detectives from San Antonio and the encircling space gathered on the Hondo banks on the lookout for clues to the duel theft.

… One of the vital outstanding coincidences of this complete affair is that these robberies might have taken place proper within the coronary heart of town and not more than 60 meters aside, and none of our individuals was the wiser till it got here to mild got here. what had occurred, and that too, it was now recognized that the night time watchman and the 2 different males had been within the depot ready room, not more than sixty yards from the entrance doorways of the First Nationwide Financial institution, whereas the theft was happening. completed. The robbers will need to have performed their job very quietly to keep away from detection. [It is hard to image a “silent” explosion of nitroglycerine.]

The phrase the newspaper used for the nocturnal burglars was “yeggs,” a preferred vernacular of the time. It is attention-grabbing to match the newspaper protection to Willis’ account by which the First Nationwide Financial institution vault was left unlocked and so they used nitroglycerin (as an alternative of TNT) to explode the State Financial institution vault door. Much more attention-grabbing was the very fact that there have been no follow-up articles concerning the theft. There was no point out of the break-in at a number of banks within the months that adopted, regardless of giant ads from each banks. It was as if each banks had by no means been robbed.

The Galveston Each day Information on Jan. 10 reported the theft, describing a “tangle” that turned out to be a crimson herring:

Rovershak might result in arrest

Phone traces lower when banks are looted in Hondo

San Antonio, Texas – Jan. 10 A rubber heel misplaced from a shoe could result in the identification of the financial institution robbers who efficiently captured $20,000 from the First Nationwide Financial institution of Hondo and the Hondo State Financial institution early Sunday morning.

The financial institution robbers gained entry to the 2 banks by prying the iron bars from the rear home windows of the buildings and manipulating the combos of the vault within the First Nationwide Financial institution, however blew off the door of the vault within the state financial institution.

The seize was created from the protected deposit containers in each banks, with the robbers getting solely $1,500 in money from the First Nationwide and $29,350 within the cash from the state financial institution. The smaller vault safes in each establishments had been untouched.

The stability of the loot, it’s estimated by officers of the 2 banks, was secured from homeowners of protected deposit containers within the banks. Hondo was not conscious of the financial institution robbers’ go to till practically midday on Sunday, when the open home windows on the rear of the 2 financial institution buildings had been found.

Heel misplaced in financial institution.

Sheriff JS Baden was given the misplaced rubber heel throughout his investigation, which was discovered outdoors the vault of the First Nationwide Financial institution. Additional investigation revealed a set of burglar instruments consisting of a pipe wrench, noticed and chisel, which had been left behind by the robbers. Nonetheless, these aren’t thought of necessary as a result of they’re a typical model and may be simply bought at any ironmongery shop.

Simply outdoors the window by way of which the robbers entered the state financial institution, Sheriff Baden discovered the numbers 13,555 scratched on the brickwork. This, financial institution officers consider, signifies the quantity the robbers took from the protected deposit containers within the financial institution. [This curious piece of information appears to have been just another “red herring.”]

Sheriff Baden believes the robberies had been dedicated by a gang of six males who despatched a vanguard of two to Hondo final week.

… Hondo residents, who rose early Sunday morning, reported to the sheriff that they noticed a robust automobile leaving the suburbs of town, occupied by six males. These, the sheriff believes, had been the Hondo robbers.

[Ironically] Sheriff Baden suffered a loss from the robbers’ early go to, when his vault on the First Nationwide Financial institution was damaged into and $300 in stamps and $150 in bonds had been stolen. A $100 Liberty bond, owned by his son OJ Baden, from Donna, was left within the field.

In mild of the inaccurate clews, the Newtons had been by no means tried for the Hondo financial institution robberies.

Willis Newton was born in 1889 and died in 1979, making him Texas’s longest-living outlaw. He and the Newton Gang skipped trains and banks within the early Nineteen Twenties, however their greatest catch got here in 1924 after they robbed a practice outdoors Rondout, Illinois and obtained away with $3,000,000. They nonetheless maintain the file for the biggest practice theft in American historical past.

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