Today, the Rhode Island State Quarter Coin remembers the loss at the Wakefield post office to the daring pirate burglars on May 17, 1894.
From the Providence, Rhode Island Evening Telegram of May 17, 1894:
Pirate Burglars Looted the Wakefield Post Office This Morning.
Took Booty Worth $6,400.
Postmaster Robinson Roused by the Explosion too Late to Catch the Men.
Off in their Red Sloop.
Left Her at Anchor Off Narragansett Pier Last Night and Went to Wakefield.
The mysterious sloop that has appeared in many different ports along the Sound during the past month, and which was always followed by a daring burglary, anchored off Narragansett Pier last night.
Three men were seen to row ashore, and during the night the most daring burglary in the history of the town of Wakefield was committed.
That this mysterious sloop is the headquarters of a gang of professional cracksmen is now a settled fact.
The sloop is painted red to the water line, with a green stripe. It has been sailed into the harbor at Mystic, New London, at Norwich and also at Jamestown, only to remain one night.
In each instance one or more burglaries were committed during the night, and the following morning no trace of the sloop was to be found.
The place selected for the field of operation by the cracksmen last night was the post office in Wakefield.
It is located in one of the public buildings of the village and on the principal thoroughfare.
It was known to a few that the postmaster, D. F. Robinson, Jr., kept a large amount of private security in the safe, yet so publicly was the post office located that it was not for an instant believed burglars would dare to visit it.
Postmaster Robinson resides directly across the street from the post office.
At 3 o’clock this morning the postmaster heard a rumbling noise, which he believed was thunder.
He thought that a storm was coming, and he arose for the purpose of closing the windows in his sleeping room.
On looking out of the window towards the post office he saw two men, while lying in front of the shop was a dark object, which proved to be a section of the post office safe.
It took but a single glance to tell the postmaster that the post office had been burglarized.
Seizing his revolver, he started out, but it was then too late to prevent the crooks making a safe retreat.
Mr. Robinson fired three shots at them, but is not believed that any of them took effect.
The villagers were aroused by the shooting, and upon investigation it was found that a most daring and successful burglary had been committed.
The burglars first broke into a village shop, where they secured some chisels and hammers.
Next they visited the post office and forced an entrance. They drilled holes in the safe door, charged it with dynamite, and when all was in readiness, set the charge off.
The front of the safe was blown off, sections of it being blown out through the front of the building into the street.
The interior of the store was wrecked by the explosion and not a light of glass was left in the windows.
Investigation on the part of Postmaster Robinson disclosed the fact that the burglars secured $5,000 in private securities, $1,200 worth of postage stamps and $100 in money.
Deputy Sheriff J. R. Wilcox and Officer McArdle were at work upon the case today, but up to noon had secured no trace of the burglars.
The mysterious sloop was not to be seen near Narragansett Pier this morning.
Postmaster Robinson could give only a slight description of the men whom he saw standing in front of the post office door after the explosion.
The Rhode Island State Quarter Coin shows with an image of Narragansett Pier, circa late 1800s.