January 11, 2021 — “It’s not like the good old days.” This is a common phrase, repeated especially by those old enough to remember those golden ages.

But in every age, there is a little bit of scandal.

In 1967, Minot had a rash of episodes in which thieves roamed the streets. Within just a few days, the Minot daily news reported on the many thefts, which included electronics, clothing, accessories and more.

On this day, the paper listed some of the treasures that were taken. The treasures that the robbers took included a white gold woman’s wedding ring from the Arrowhead Jewelry priced at $75, a spare tire and wheel from a 1959 station wagon, miscellaneous clothing and…Christmas lights.

Monday reports stated that other light-thieves actually unscrewed about 20 bulbs “of various colors” from the home of Marvin Mattern, and about twelve were taken from the G. Harstad residence. Still more were reported as taken from the house of Mrs. Joe Schiff.

Christmas lights were reported as stolen from three other homes over the previous weekend. Mrs. Lynn Aaas reported a 15-light string was taken from the front of her home, while Mrs. Lloyd Kirkeide said that about 20 of her bulbs had also been unscrewed and taken away. Boys were reported stealing from the residence of Mrs. Raymond M. Goosen, who, according to the paper, had one of the little thieves in custody.

Other pranks and mischief afoot also involved youth. One woman found that her garbage had been dumped out across her lawn. Another woman spotted boys putting check blanks into her trashcan. Still another resident reported seeing a group of boys playing on a city truck.

It was soon after reported that the police caught up to some of these troublemakers. Four boys between the ages of 14 and 16 were charged with “weekend entry of a van,” where they took so much “loot” that they had stolen over one thousand dollars-worth. They moved all of their ill-gotten gains to the house of one of the 16-year-olds, when his parents were absent.

This little gang wasn’t responsible for everything that had been reported as stolen. A lot of burglaries had been reported. In this same times pan, Minot had even had an armed robbery reported, the first the city had seen since August, 1963. Yet, when the four boys were arrested, the police stated they cleared up a number of other thefts in the city. A “detailed listing by police of the recovered loot filled several pages.”

With or without the Christmas lights, it was an early Christmas present for police officers when they found this group and their stash of stolen goods.

“Dakota Datebook” is a radio series from Prairie Public in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota and with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council. See all the Dakota Datebooks at prairiepublic.org, subscribe to the “Dakota Datebook” podcast, or buy the Dakota Datebook book at shopprairiepublic.org.

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