Stolen checks signed by Wright brothers found after 25 years


Stolen checks signed by Wright brothers found after 25 years

CREATED Apr 4, 2013

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- The Wright brothers are credited with inventing the airplane and making the first controlled flight in the early 1900's. They're also the subject of this week's Crime Beat.

Four hundred historic checks signed by the Wright Brothers were stolen back in 1988 from the Gallery of History in Las Vegas. Twenty-five years later, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department officers helped return some of them to their rightful owner.

Walking into the Gallery of History takes you back in time. There are photos and signatures of the Beatles, Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor and past presidents -- not to mention the historic drawings and letters.

"As far as the historical value, you can't put a price on that. That's priceless," said Sergeant Troyce Krumme.

That's why Las Vegas police felt compelled to help find what was stolen from the gallery nearly three decades ago.

A photo of Orville Wright and his airplane are displayed proudly on the wall. Now, more than 100 checks signed by him in 1934 are back in the Gallery's possession.

"This was a piece of important U.S. history," said Sgt. Krumme. "You don't see a lot of checks running around every day with the Wright Brothers' signature on it." 

The checks disappeared in 1988. The gallery's owner believes they were stolen by an old employee, but the case was never solved.

Then just last month, someone was found selling one of the checks on eBay.

Police were able to trace the check back to a woman, who found a box of them in an old shed.

"It was a shed full of property. The roof had caved in. They had some insulation over everything, and it was all pretty much destroyed. So the contractor paid her to haul it all off to the dump," said Sgt. Krumme. 

Luckily, that woman held on to the checks instead of throwing them away. 

Because of Nevada's statute of limitations, the person who originally stole the checks will likely never be found or prosecuted. 

Police say there are still about 150 checks unaccounted for.