Abercrombie Bank Heist
Three bank bandits pulled off a sensational heist at the State Bank of Abercrombie on this date in 1924, escaping with a total of $18,000 in cash and Liberty bonds. Fargo Sheriff Fred Fraemer said that he did not know exactly how or when the men arrived, but he thought they came in from the south around 11 PM. When they got there, the men cut all of the telephone and telegraph wires going into the town. They also took a hostage – Marius Strand, the phone company’s night operator.
They gagged and bound Mr. Strand, and held him prisoner in the lumberyard until 1 a.m. At this time, the lights in the town were put out and the café closed down for the night. The bandits hurried to the rear of the bank, dragging their prisoner behind. They employed a crowbar and other tools that they had stolen from a nearby tool house to break into one of the bank’s rear windows. They climbed inside the building and again engaged the stolen crowbar to pry bricks from the side of the vault. According to Strand, the bandits succeeded in making a small hole in the wall of the vault, just large enough for the smallest bandit to crawl through to reach the bank’s safe, inside of the vault.
This man crawled into the vault and placed five charges of nitroglycerine explosives around the safe. It was apparently the bandits’ intention to only blow open the door of the small safe, but the ensuing explosion was so violent that it not only destroyed the safe, but the massive door from the vault was torn from its hinges. The vault’s lock combination was thrown across the room. The bandits quickly collected the booty and fled from the scene, leaving their bound hostage behind. Luckily, Mr. Strand’s feet were not tightly bound, and he was eventually able to arouse some of the town’s citizens.
Authorities traced the getaway car to Ortonville, but lost the track. They arrested 5 men two weeks later in Minot, and charged them with the crime. The men were being held on drunkenness charges and were in possession of a stolen car. Their former hostage, Mr. Strand, identified the thieves.
Written by Jayme Job
The Fargo Forum. May 13, 1924: p. 1, 9.
The Fargo Forum. May 14, 1924: p. 2.
The Fargo Forum. May 27, 1924: p. 1.