With the number of accounts of pistols, rifles and other sundry weapons found in the walls, nooks and crannies of old houses, it's a wonder someone doesn't do a Home Improvement tv show on them...
Chicago Trib waying in...
THE BEAT: SOUTH & SOUTHWEST
AROUND SOUTH COOK AND WILL COUNTIES
If walls could talk, secret of past might be revealed
Published April 17, 2005
LOCKPORT TOWNSHIP -- The house that Andrew Mayes of Lockport recently bought turned out to be a bit like a box of Cracker Jack: It had a surprise inside.
The surprise was secreted behind a wall in a closet Mayes was knocking out while rehabbing the home in the 200 block of Reverend Walton Drive in unincorporated Lockport Township, police said.
There, in an old gunnysack, was a 1928 A1 Thompson submachine gun, a version of the repeating rifle favored by gangsters and G-men alike during the Roaring '20s.
Seven boxes of ammunition were found alongside the "Tommy Gun," which was said to be in pristine condition.
"It's similar, but it's not exactly the same as the gangsters used [in the movies]," said Will County Sheriff Paul Kaupas, who noted that police and officials with the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives will try to trace the gun to an owner.
The find presents intriguing possibilities, Kaupas conceded. Was the house a rural hideout for some of Capone's boys?
"We traced the residents and the house, and there were no known gangsters who lived there," Kaupas said.
But who knows? The guns, precursors to similar weapons used by the military, also could be purchased by civilians for recreational use or protection, Kaupas said.
"We're going to try to trace the weapon through the sales number and see if it goes back to the military," he said.
Another clue as to who owned the gun could come from a receipt that says the ammunition was purchased June 15, 1940, said sheriff's spokesman Pat Barry.
Attempts to reach Mayes, who turned in the weapon Tuesday, were unsuccessful. Kaupas praised Mayes for reporting the find to police.
Barry put the gun's value at about $10,000. But the law limits the ability to sell the gun to a collector or a museum. Kaupas said state law prohibits civilians from owning automatic weapons, and federal law says the gun may have to be destroyed.
The age of the gun also makes tracing it a challenge because information about it is likely contained on paper records.
"Because the gun's so old, a lot of this stuff will have to be hand-checked," Barry said.
For now, the gun will remain in the sheriff's police armory, where a few similar weapons are stored.
Meanwhile, the mystery remains.
"It could have been used for self-protection, but why was it hidden in the wall?" Kaupas wondered.
Copyright © 2005, Chicago Tribune
Edited by ACARLG, 17 April 2005 - 07:32 PM.