Tour Locations | Unholy Toledo Tour: Gambling and Gangsters in the Glass City
Central Post Office | Jefferson and 13th Street
Pull over where you can.
In February 1921, Toledo became national news when a local hoodlum named Joe Urbaytis, and his gang of more than a dozen bandits pulled off the biggest robbery in Toledo history. They didn't rob a bank or a jewelry store, they robbed the post office.
It was February 17th, 1921 when witnesses said they saw a car swerve onto 14th Street at the rear of what was then the main U.S. Post Office between Jefferson and Madison. The car (later found to be stolen) had five men inside and was tailing a U.S. Postal Service truck which had just loaded up six pouches at Union Station. The mail pouches were filled with securities, cash and bank notes. Joe and his crew knew what they were after and when the mail truck reached the loading dock, they jumped out of their car with guns drawn and began ordering everyone to get on the floor. Within minutes, the bandits were back in the car, and speeding away. The take in the robbery was estimated to be at least a million dollars. In today's dollars, that's about $12 million bucks. The biggest heist in Toledo history.
Urbaytis and his gang managed to slip away but most of them were picked up on a Chicago-bound train a few days later. While awaiting trial, Joe and an accomplice pulled off a daring escape from the Lucas County Jail. He was captured in Columbus three years later after a gun battle with police. He was convicted of several crimes and sentenced to the Atlanta Federal Prison. After trying several escapes from Atlanta, he was sentenced to serve his time at the newly opened Alcatraz Federal Prison on a remote island known as "the rock" in Oakland Bay, California.
Long story short…Joe was granted an early release from prison in 1943, came back to Toledo, jumped right back into the rackets and was gunned down inside his Bon-Aire Supper Club on Woodville Road in 1946.
Let's get moving.
You're going to turn right on Madison and make a quick left on 12th Street. Pull over to your right about half-way into the block in front of the parking lot. Don't worry, I'll give directions as you go.