"LET'S GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE!"
Detective Specialist George Toth, Truck One, Emergency Service, New York City Police Department, was
appointed to the NYPD on June 13, 1956. He transferred into the Emergency Service Division on November 4, l959. What follows is just one of the many incidents of his career. In his own words, he recalls:
"On June 9th 1974, I was working a 4 x 12 tour out of ESS#1,
assigned to the A1 car, my partner was Police Officer Teddy Motz. We received a call from the radio dispatcher at 1610 hours to respond to an address on W. 57th Street in Manhattan.
"Precinct Sergeant on scene requests to gain entry into building, a possible burglary in progress".
We were informed on arrival that an alarm had been tripped at the
alarm system headquarters. The door to the store had been wired closed on the inside with bailing wire and they didn't know if anybody was still inside. The store
was exclusively used for storage for pawnbrokers who stored furs and valuables. Using bolt cutters we cut the wire securing the door thereby gaining entry to the premises.
While making a search of the first floor in the rear of the building we found that someone had been working on the two safes with sledgehammers and drills but were
unable to open them. We then proceeded to the second floor of the twelve-story building. The second floor was a suite of vacant offices consisting of three rooms.
We found two sticks of dynamite, ten electrical blasting caps, wire, drill, drill bits, sledgehammer, chisels, oxygen and acetylene torch. We also found half eaten
pastrami sandwiches, soda beer cans, and shaving equipment, which led us to believe that whoever was trying to break open the safes had been there since Friday afternoon.
After further checking we found an open window with a knotted rope hanging out the window into a rear courtyard, their probable means of escape. After consulting with
the Precinct Sergeant, I decided to use an outside telephone and notify the radio dispatcher of the situation and request the bomb squad. I also requested units in the
area not to transmit on their radios or the police personnel in the building to use telephones or turn on light switches because of the blasting caps.
Upon returning to the building, I encountered the alarm system agent ascending from the basement and he said "I think you better come down to the basement with me,
there's some wires running along the basement floor to the rear of one of the safes".
Once in the basement with the agent I followed the wire along the basement floor to
the rear, up into the wall. The wall was covered with a mattress held in place by a ladder.
We removed the ladder and the mattress fell away revealing seven holes with two
wires running to each hole. Tracing the wires, I found they ran into a telephone junction box. "Holy shit, let's get the hell out of here!" I shouted.
As we bailed out of the basement, I met Detective Suchoski from the Bomb Squad and told him of my findings and proceeded to the basement with him. He
immediately took a pair of wire cutters and cut the two wires that ran to the telephone junction box. He informed me that the blasting caps were all wired together and led
to the telephone junction box, meaning that only a telephone call to the number that the wires were hooked into would send an electrical charge to the blasting caps and set off the dynamite.
He then told me to have the Precinct Sergeant evacuate the building and close off the street from vehicular and pedestrian traffic until we were finished. He informed me
that he was working alone, his partner was off, and that I would have to assist him. He directed me to get a porto-light and come back to the basement.
When I returned he said 'I'm going to explain to you what we have here. There are seven holes drilled into the concrete wall of the safe. The dynamite has been
unwrapped and the material pushed into the hole, an electrical blasting cap has been embedded into the dynamite material in the seven holes.'
He showed me how the wires had been connected to the blasting caps and rigged to the telephone junction box completing the electrical circuit. Detective Suchoski
had beads of sweat on his face as he whispered that one call to that location, either an intentional or a wrong number would have detonated the explosives.
We place two stepladders against the wall because the holes were about six feet from the floor. Using only the porto-light to work with, we then removed the wires
attached to the blasting caps, stripped the plastic insulator exposing the bare wire on the blasting caps and twisted the bare wires together, thereby making them safe from
any electrical current. Detective Suchoski took out an ice pick and started removing the dynamite material that was embedded around the blasting caps. He told me to
grasp the blasting caps by the wire and pull gently until they were free. All seven blasting caps were removed by the same process. We then used a hose to flush out
the remaining dynamite material from the holes.
We packed all the dynamite and blasting caps in boxes and removed them from the building, placing them in the bomb carrier that was waiting for us in front of the building. They were then
transported to the outdoor range at Rodman's Neck in the Bronx."
©Copyright 1999 George Toth
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