$64,350 food stamps stolen (7-28-41)

The Pittsburgh Press (July 28, 1941)


New York ring suspected in robbery here

The government-subsidized food stamp program went into high gear here during the weekend.

Stamps valued at $64,350 were stolen from the Department of Public Assistance headquarters at 220 4th Ave.

Thieves entered the old Continental Bank Bldg. housing the relief headquarters and broke into five safes in which the stamps were stored.

Police Inspector Walter Monaghan said the stamps were apparently stolen by a New York gang of food stamp thieves which had extended its activities.

Mr. Monaghan reported that $40,000 worth of stamps were stolen recently in Brooklyn and $60,000 worth in the Bronx.

The stamps can be exchanged at face value for food in any grocery store in the country in which the Federal Surplus Commodities Corp. program is in operation.

Three of the one-ton safes were turned over before being forced open. The other two were opened where they stood. Police estimated it took six men eight hours to do the job.

There are no shades at either the 3rd or 4th Ave. entrance to the building, but the robbery was not discovered until E. J. Boleky, distribution manager, arrived at the office this morning.

About 4,600 stores in Allegheny County are licensed to accept the stamps. Reliefers use the stamps for food purchases and the merchant turns them in for cash.

Two-thirds of the stolen stamps, ranging from books worth $2 to $10, were orange, the rest blue. The orange stamps can be used for any kind of food, the blue ones only for food on the current surplus list.

Reliefers use their assistance grants to buy the orange stamps, for each dollar’s worth they get 50¢ worth of blue stamps free.

The stamps must bear the Assistance Department’s rubber stamp mark, but this can be duplicated easily, police said.