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NEWS: PenguinPickUp once site of gambling bust (Feb. 2023)

March 27th, 2023 · No Comments

In 1928, police arrested 74 men in a surprise raid 

527 Bloor St. was the site of a major gambling bust in 1928.

By Hailey Alexander

On July 24, 1928, the police arrested 74 men at the Prospector’s Club which was on the upper floor of 527 Bloor St. W. The main floor was Prince & Co. Hardware (now PenguinPickUp.) According to the Toronto Daily Star, police broke up a bank dice game with “thousands of dollars in play” shortly before 3:00 a.m.

The keeper of the alleged betting house, William Kidd, was released on $500 bail until August 8 of that year and the other 73 men were fined $10.

The raiding party was organized by Chief of Police General Draper and supervised by Inspector Mitchell of Court Street police station, Inspector Johnson of Dundas Street West police station, and Acting Inspector Marshall of Belmont Street police station. Assisted by many others, police found $4,170 in bills and a “large sugar bag” containing silver and cheques which were later brought to court among other evidence. In the Star’s detailed description of the events, police seized a revolver, ammunition, dice cups which had been thrown into a piano when the men heard constables climbing the stairs, and other paraphernalia.

“The police acted with the utmost secrecy in laying the plans for the raid,” stated the Star, further mentioning that most plainclothesmen were under sealed orders until they arrived at the building. Associates professed not to have known of the raid until the two vans were being “filled with prisoners” who were brought to the police station. In addition to being the “smoothest and most successful gambling raid ever conducted in the city,” as an officer put it, this was the largest raid in terms of numbers and alleged gambling money within the club as of that date.

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