And, it is about now that you’re wondering what this has to do with Idaho. Nothing. Maybe.
Just over a year later, the headline in The Idaho Statesman read, “Burglars Loot Museum, Steal Silver.” This time the burglary was in Idaho and the loot was from the USS Idaho. The value of the purloined silver service in Idaho was set as “several hundred dollars,” but it wasn’t the monetary value the Idaho State Historical Society was worried about. The silver tea service from the Idaho, along with a few silver ingots and medals given to Governor Cecil D. Andrus at the Western Governor’s Conference the year before, were prized for their historical value.
The sterling silver tea service had been used during inaugural balls ever since the Idaho had been decommissioned in 1946. It was irreplaceable.
In the Idaho burglary there was no handy scaffolding for the thieves to climb. They brought a ladder with them. One of the burglars—perhaps it was a single burglar—climbed up to reach a window on an enclosed porch, broke the window, then crawled in. This may have been a clue. The window was one foot by one-and-a-half feet, meaning the culprit must have been small.
Once inside the thief or thieves smashed the display case glass to get to the tea set. Police speculated that they used the punch bowl from the set as a basket, piling the rest of the loot inside. They went out a door and fled northeast across Julia Davis Park, marking their route when they dropped a serving tray from the set, not bothering to retrieve it.
And that, sadly, is the end of the story. None of the silver from either robbery was ever recovered. It was likely melted down and cashed in.
The tea service from the USS Idaho had a history with the WWII ship, but its connection to Idaho went even further back. The service was donated by the people of Idaho for use on the predecessor ship, the USS Idaho in 1912, so it had served on two ships bearing that name.