Leeds nostalgia: May 1947: Thieves get away with 50,000 cigarette haul

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This week in 1947, a gang stole 50,000 cigarettes from a van in Leeds.

The YEP described the heist as “an audacious robbery”, as it was carried out in broad daylight. According to the report, the van was left unattended at Portland Crescent for only two minutes, while the driver made a delivery to a shop just a few metres away.

Wilfred Brook, driver of the van, which belonged to J R Dixon and Son, wholesale and retail tobacconists, said he was in the shop of Mr W Clift on the corner of Woodhouse Lane and Cookridge Street for only a minute or so.

When he came out, he could see no sign of his blue van, a 1938 Bedford 10hp model, registration GUM 170.

“There was not a should to be seen when I parked,” he said. “It is my belief someone had watched me make deliveries for weeks and knew just where and how long I usually stopped.”

He went on: “The van was locked and the ignition key was in my pocket. The self-starter was broken and to start it, the van had to be pushed or wound. Definitely someone made away with it who knew quite a lot about my van and my deliveries.”

As a result of the theft, it was estimated 12 tobacconists across Leeds would have empty shelves until further deliveries could be arranged.

In other news, guillemots eggs were being sold on Leeds Market. They were said to be too large for the standard egg cups and came with a distinctive, sometimes peculiar taste, which was not to everyone’s liking. However, when hard-boiled and sliced into salads, they were said to be excellent. Much of the rest of the produce on the market, from strawberries to cherries and peaches, was said to have come direct from Italy. Grapes cost 5s per pound.

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