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Chicago Cigarette Theft Foiled

In this episode, we delve into a fascinating tale from the 1950s in Blue Island, Chicago, where Alfred Konecki, the president of F.W. Konecki & Sons Company, a tobacco distribution business, encountered suspicious activity involving a truck from Unity Refrigeration following their delivery vehicles. Two detectives, Bernard Kennedy and George Hanecki, were assigned to investigate the situation, setting up surveillance and observing a complex series of vehicles tailing each other.

The detectives uncovered that the Unity Refrigeration Truck was being followed by a car driven by Robert Bradshaw, a salesman for the Kodaki Company, who claimed he was trailing the Unity truck due to suspicions about its activities. Upon halting the vehicles, the officers discovered familiar faces inside the Unity truck – Chicago Outfit Associate Frank Schweihs, Stanley Bajic and Sam Ciancio, armed with .38 caliber revolvers and a police scanner tuned to Chicago PD frequencies.

Despite the lack of a solid case against them, the officers interrogated the trio, sending a clear message regarding their monitoring of criminal activities. This incident highlights the organized crime presence in Chicago during that era and the tactics employed to protect businesses from theft and extortion. The narrative offers a glimpse into the early days of Frank Schweihs, who would later play a significant role in criminal activities, including extorting money from establishments.

The story underscores the challenges businesses face dealing with criminal interference and the intricate dynamics of law enforcement and organized crime in Chicago in the 1950s. It provides a window into a bygone era where local authorities often struggled to combat such activities, leaving individuals to navigate complex relationships with criminal elements. The intricacies of mob involvement in businesses and the strategies employed to mitigate threats offer a compelling perspective on the historical landscape of organized crime in major cities like Chicago.



[0:00]So, wiretappers, we’re going to go to the little town, our little community
of Blue Island in southwest Chicago.
It’s down by, it’s north of Chicago Heights, a little bit west and north of
Calumet City, south and west of downtown, like I said, right off of, looks like I-57.
We’re going to look in at 131-36 Southwestern Avenue in Blue Island.
Will find Alfred Konecki.
He was the president of F.W. Konecki & Sons Company, which was a tobacco distribution company.
They would take packages, you know, cartons and cases of cigarettes around for
distribution to different places.
A couple of his drivers reported that they had noticed a truck.
[0:46]Kind of a van kind of a truck, marked Unity Refrigeration had been following
their delivery vehicles around.
[0:52]And they’d looked out, and that truck was parked near the Konecki garage at that time.
So Mr. Konecki calls Chicago PD, and they assign a couple of detectives to come out and investigate.
Detective Bernard Kennedy and George Hanecki, kind of a close name to Konecki,
Surveillance Operation
[1:09]but I guess another one of those big, long German names.
After the detectives respond, they set up a surveillance down the street,
and they must have called Mr.
Konecki by phone and let him know that they were set, because he then dispatched
one of the trucks. One of his employees, an Elmer Jepson, left.
As soon as Mr. Jepson left in the delivery truck, the Unity Refrigeration Truck
pulled out and started following it north and kept following it north and north
and went up to 87th Street.
And about that time, the detectives noticed that a passenger car was also following
the Unity Refrigeration Truck.
So there was a triple surveillance going on here, double surveillance.
They didn’t know what it is. So the first thing they did was stop the car that
was following the Unity refrigeration truck.
They found it was driven by Robert Bradshaw, a salesman for the Kodaki Company,
and he had already stopped.
He had picked up a traffic patrolman somewhere along the way.
He claimed he was following the delivery truck and behind the Unity refrigeration
truck because he had learned of this suspicious truck following their truck.
It gets kind of confusing, doesn’t it?
Triple Surveillance
[2:17]The detectives eventually let them go right away, and once they got them identified,
when they caught up with the Unity refrigeration truck, which was still following
the Konecki delivery truck, they were at 79th Street and Washtenaw Avenue.
When they pulled over the Unity refrigeration truck, they approached it in the
usual way, guns drawn, one officer on the passenger side and one officer on
the driver’s side, and ordered the three occupants out.
And guess who they found inside that truck? But our old friend,
Chicago Outfit Associate, this is early in his career, Frank Schweihs.
He was 22 years old at the time.
Newspaper reported he was living at 522 West 29th Street.
I’m not sure where that is. You Chicago guys might even live in that neighborhood
and want to drive by and see if it’s still there. Early address on Frank Schweihs.
Stanley Bajic, who was 30 years old, lived at 3755 Admiral Avenue.
He was an ex-con also. and a SAM-CNCO, 26 years old, of 6843 South Wood Street.
They had absolutely no explanation for what they were doing.
The officers checked the inside of the truck.
They found two .38 caliber revolvers, and they found a police scanner that was tuned to Chicago PD.
Interrogation of Suspects
[3:33]Frequencies so they could monitor the police frequencies. Took them in and interrogated them.
If you want to check Mike Byrne’s Facebook page, The Chicago Outfit,
old and current news articles, you’ll find the original article in here.
There’s a pretty good picture of Stanley Bojic, Sam CSEO, and Frank Schweihs being
questioned by a Lieutenant, Lieutenant Frank O’Sullivan of the Detective Bureau.
Of course, they really didn’t have a case on them, but they did send a message
that, Yeah, we know who you are, and you probably better leave Alfred Koenigke’s
tobacco distribution alone.
This is Chicago.
More than likely, somebody then came back around to Mr.
Koenigke and said, Hey, I understand you’re having problems with people stealing
from your trucks. Well, yeah, so what?
Well, you know, we can handle that. You know, these are just young guys.
We can take care of these guys. You know, just a couple of C-notes a week,
and hey, we can handle these guys. You won’t have any more trouble.
That’s how they do business in Chicago many times, and that was back in 1954.
And everybody in every major city in the United States, if they somehow rubbed
up against the mob, that’s how they had to do business.
You could not depend on local police. The FBI was not interested.
This actually happened in 1954, March the 24th.
Conclusion and Reflections
[4:58]Bar Tappers, I hope you enjoyed that little story. It’s a little story about
hijacking cigarette trucks in the 50s by the Chicago Outfit and the very early
career of Frank Schweihs, who would go on to become a feared killer and a very important guy.
He’s the guy that extorted money from the porn shops that Red Womet talks about in his book.
So I suggest that you Google Red Womet, W-E-M-E-T-T-E.
You can find out firsthand knowledge about Frank Schweihs.
So if you have a loved one or a family member or friend that has a problem with
drugs or alcohol, make your first call a first call.
Call 816-361-5900 or go to their website, www.firstcallkc.org.
And if you want to support this podcast, please, please use your Venmo app.
Buy me a cup of Starbucks every once in a while or go to my website,
Go to the shop page, make a donation through PayPal or with your credit card.
You can become a regular subscriber to it or you can buy my book or you can
buy my movie good night folks.

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