From the archives of Liberal’s hometown newspaper since 1886.
Researched and compiled by Amira Coleman, L&T Reporter
Holiday shopping sparks small crime spree
The amount of crime in 1963 in Liberal was slowly climbing, with multiple daily articles calling attention to crimes from as small as failed money manipulation to serious crimes such as manslaughter and murder. The Times featured an average of one per paper, even if it was just a small-time crime.
Early in December that year, police were searching for a short-change artist, who attempted to work a fast shuffling of money for his own profits in at least two stores. The police reported that he was not successful in either case. The Times reported that “the scheme involve(d) a small purchase plus the quick manipulation of fives and tens in an attempt to confuse the clerk and secure more change than is due.”
A one-day driver refresher course was being conducted at McKinley School. The instructors for the course were to be Wilbur Law and James Cowan of the traffic and safety department of the Kansas Highway Commission.
“A great amount of thought and preparation have gone into the course which has been concentrated and streamlined in order to achieve the greatest amount of individual improvement in the limited amount of time allowed,” the Times reported. There were not to be any written tests or actual driving involved, simply review. The course was designed to enable each individual to evaluate their own driving and improve their driving skills.
Liberal law enforcement officials were reminding merchants and private citizens that the Christmas shopping season should bring in a new level awareness for everyone.
“There is an increase in hot checking, shoplifting, theft of packages from cars and money manipulators,” stated the Times. The town had been experiencing a lot more instances in which shoplifters or money manipulators were caught, or at least noticed.
The city police also pointed out an increased amount of car prowling and looting, happening at all times of day without prejudice. Unlocked cars with visible packages were viable targets for thieves, along with visible purses sitting on a car’s seat. A considerable amount of firearms were also reported stolen from parked cars. The police department wanted the town on high alert with an acute awareness of crimes happening in Liberal.
The Liberal Senior High School honor roll was published in the Times for the second six weeks, with apparent pride for the students at their achievements.
The top five seniors for 1963 were Mary Andrade, Candy Andrews, Bob Graber, Carolyn Hall and James Hargrove. The top five juniors were Sheryl Adams, Linda Baxter, Cynthia Brisendine, Stanley Bryant and Lynn Butler. The top five sophomores were Margaret Ballantyne, Jim Carlile, Sandra Carlson, Diane Craven and Anette Gaona. The top five freshmen were Judy Axthelm, Patricia Banker, John Bozarth, Eddie Cox and Carolyn Cullum.
A less impressive news item documented family troubles that crossed state lines. Leland E. Walker was bound over to district court for trial on non-support of family charges. He was returned to Liberal from Littleton, Colo. Walker was committed to jail in lieu of $2,000 bond pending trial in the higher court.