There was a bit of a crime wave in rural Stutsman County back in 1925.
I suppose it would be called “grand theft, turkey.”
Sometime in November, thieves visited the turkey roost at the A.L. Orange farm just outside of Jamestown and made off with nine turkeys.
Our thieves, described as local young men by The Jamestown Sun, drew the attention of the neighbors and law enforcement officers and decided to turn the turkeys loose on rather than sell them off to be the guest of honor at Thanksgiving dinners.
“Everybody in that neighborhood had been on the watch for the culprits,” wrote The Jamestown Sun. “… Neighbors returning from town saw a car parked by the Orange farm suddenly lighted up and driven away.”
The neighbors gave chase at speeds of “up to about 50 mph” and got close enough to the car to get a license plate number and a description of the vehicle.
Given the vehicles and roads of 1925, a 50-mph chase must have been terrifying for the folks chasing the turkey thieves.
Later reports indicate that the crooks released seven of the nine turkeys at the Orange farm so it is possible they still had two big birds in the back of the car during the chase.
Try to visualize two thieves and two turkeys rocketing down a dirt road at break-neck speed in a Model T Ford without smiling.
The good folks giving chase provided the information to the authorities, likely the sheriff’s office, and arrests were made and felony charges filed.
“Owing to there having been so much turkey stealing in the state the past few years,” wrote The Jamestown Sun. “The 1925 Legislature passed a law making this a felony.”
The article said the minimum penalty was six months in the county jail with a maximum of five years in the North Dakota penitentiary.
“There has been no let up on poultry stealing in Stutsman County on account of this law,” said an assistant county attorney in the article. “He intends to see that the penalty satisfies the demands of the ‘riled up’ citizenry, should the guilt of the two be established.”
Farmer Orange managed to recapture the seven turkeys released near his farm.
The other two were a bit more of a problem.
It would seem the thieves had released them closer to Jamestown before they were arrested.
Newspaper reports indicate the pair was spotted although they couldn’t be captured.
I’m guessing they just didn’t want to go for anymore car rides across the rural roads of Stutsman County.