Charlotte Heist Foiled, 1933

A man prepares to rob a bank in Massachusetts, circa 1934. Image from the Boston Public Library.

On November 15, 1933, noted criminal Roger “The Terrible” Touhy orchestrated a mail truck robbery in the heart of the Charlotte.

At the time of the robbery, Touhy was battling mobster Al Capone for control of illicit alcohol sales in Chicago. While awaiting trial for kidnapping, Touhy sent four men in his gang south to “raise” money for his defense. Although Charlotte had no connection to organized crime at the time, it was a burgeoning hub of the financial industry.

The theft took place in broad daylight. Members of Touhy’s gang ambushed the truck by driving out in front of it from an alleyway as it made its way down Third Street. The gang members got out of their car and moved toward the mail truck. At least one of the group brandished a machine gun as the others disarmed the driver. Two of Touhy’s gang easily clipped the lock on the truck with wire cutters, threw out the mail clerk they found inside and, within two minutes, stole about $100,000 in cash and bank notes.

Charlotte detective Frank Littlejohn conducted an extraordinary investigation and, within two weeks of the heist, three suspects were in jail and the fourth was dead in an apparent mob knockoff.

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