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Mail Tribune 100, April 14, 1921

The following news items were drawn from the archives of the Mail Tribune 100 years ago

April 14, 1921

MEN SUSPECTED ROBBING BANK ARE CAPTURED

Police Certain “Dutch Pete” and Frank Kodat, Arrested Yesterday, Are Yeggs Who Attempted to Rob Gold Hill Bank Tuesday.

A strange feature of the attempted robbery of the Gold Hill bank late Tuesday night is that it took place just as the president of the bank, Lem Smith, had been tipped off that it would, and as he in turn late last week had informed the sheriff’s office and the Medford police, and in spite of the fact that he had made arrangements to frustrate the planned robbery by placing Wm. Wise, a resident of Gold Hill, as guard in the bank nightly.

The two alleged robbers were captured in Medford yesterday afternoon and are now in the county jail. They are Pete Lester, alias “Dutch Pete,” who it is claimed has served six years in the Oregon penitentiary and is known as a bad man, and Frank Kodat, who claims to be a bridge worker by occupation, but who has not worked for six months. Each man is about 45 years old. The pair came here from Portland a week ago and had stopped at different local rooming houses.

It seems that they had been under close surveillance by Deputy Sheriff Joe McMahon and the Medford police since their arrival here, and so the local authorities knew just who to look for as soon as they heard of the attempted Hold Hill bank robbery.

The Prisoners Identified

“Dutch Pete” was arrested at the corner of Main and Front sts., at about 3:30 yesterday afternoon by Deputy Sheriff McMahon and Patrolman Chas. Adams. An hour later Kodat was picked up by Deputy Sheriff McMahon alone at another Main street corner. Neither offered any resistance.

William Wise, the Gold Hill bank guard, who has a one-sided gun battle with the burglars, positively identifies “Dutch Pete” and Kodat as the two burglars. In addition, Deputy Sheriff McMahon and Chief Timothy and Patrolmen Hempstreet and Adams, who had been watching the pair for days in the city, claim to have positive evidence as to their guilt.

The two men were last seen in the city together early Tuesday evening, conferring on a downtown corner. A mystery to the authorities so far is how they got to Gold Hill from here. The bank burglary occurred at 1 a.m. Wednesday. It had been learned that no revolvers were found on either prisoner, nor at their rooms. Each of the two bank burglars had entered the bank with a revolver in each hand. The authorities claim that “Dutch Pete” and Kodat cached their guns some place when they fled from the bank.

Although both prisoners talk freely on most subjects, they deny knowing anything about the Gold Hill affair, and are evasive on close questioning as to their movements all during Tuesday night. “Dutch Pete” smiles and says to his questioners frequently “You’ve got me wrong.” He does not know that the authorities have his criminal record, and have had for several days his penitentiary photograph.

— Alissa Corman; acorman@rosebudmedia.com