|Although not found in Sherburne County, this photograph
illustrates the equipment needed to create moonshine.
A news report in the pages of the Sherburne County Star News provides entertainment and also highlights the challenges police faced enforcing the 1920s prohibition laws.
The Sherburne County Star News reported in February 1929 of a burglary at the county jail. “It is not often that anyone cares to break into jail,” the paper wrote.
The cause of the “jail break-in” began several days earlier. Saturday night, February 9, 1929, Sherburne County police arrested an unidentified bootlegger. Police caught the man transporting 120 quart bottles of whiskey from Fargo, North Dakota to Minneapolis.
After a weekend in jail, the man pled guilty to bootlegging. He paid the $240 fine and left the county. The whiskey remained in the county jail waiting disposal. Tuesday night, 12 February, an unknown thief broke into the jail and removed all 120 quart bottles. The police speculated the bootlegger returned for the whiskey. Tracks around the jail suggest the thief used a truck to hauled away the alcohol. By the time of the discovery Wednesday morning, police theorized, the bootlegger completed his delivery and the alcohol distributed on the streets of Minneapolis.
In addition to being an interesting story, the reports of bootleggers breaking into jail highlights the monetary value of bootleg whiskey and suggests why prohibition failed and was repealed in 1933.