The Miller Chest
The 19th century’s answer to protecting valuables in transit.
The June 1931 issue of the Staff Magazine recounts how an exciting robbery attempt at the Vancouver Heights branch was thwarted by two heroic employees: manager F. J. Roche and teller G. C. Johnston:
“Two bandits gained entrance to the office through the skylight at night and, concealing themselves in the Manager’s office, seized Mr. Johnston when he arrived at the Bank at 9 a.m. They tied him to a chair, and a few minutes later seized Mr. Roche as he entered his room and lashed him to another chair.
The bandits, masked and armed with revolvers, demanded that Mr. Roche open the safe. Mr. Roche replied that it was impossible to do so as the time-lock was set for the opening of the safe at 10 o’clock. Repeated threats and explanations continued for an hour. Then with the arrival of 10 o’clock, Mr. Roche was unbound, taken to the safe under cover of revolvers and ordered to ‘open up or be drilled.’
Mr. Roche, after various delays in fumbling the numbers, at length threw off the combination, but pulled on the wrong lever and of course failed to open the door. He suggested that the time lock was still holding, and told the bandits to try it themselves.
By this time it was past 10 o’clock and customers were knocking at the front door. The bandits became nervous and decamped through the back door. They have since been arrested and committed for trial.
The sequel to the above was the presentation from the General Managers of an inscribed gold watch and a cheque to Mr. Roche and a cheque to Mr. Johnston as an appreciation from the Bank of the manner in which they had protected its property.”
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