Pranks and Crime in the Thirties

In the 1930s, the range of crime and pranks committed by Yelm citizens was much more limited than it is now. The only crime reported by Yelm Citizens interviewed by the Yelm History Project was speeding and a few robberies, but nothing as serious as it is now. The extent of the pranks was also very limited and only involved dismantling woodpiles and tipping over outhouses. These pranksters would then return the next day and help the owners rebuild the piles and return the outhouses to their upright positions. This probably reflects the overall good will people harbored towards each other in the ’30s. Residents reported a large difference between the general goodwill people held towards each other back then, and the bad feelings people harbor nowadays. During the depression people held a higher concern for each other’s wellbeing due to the extreme poverty caused by the depression.

The crime committed in Yelm was much less destructive in nature than it is now, consisting mostly of speeding and a few robbery offenses. Interviewees reported a decrease in speeding only after the Yelm deputies acquired vehicles that could out speed or even catch-up with the speeding culprits. Yelm Deputies were notorious for giving speeding tickets only to out-of-towners in an attempt to boost the local economy. There is no evidence that this technique ever actually boosted the local economy, but the interviewees were certainly not complaining.

(Source: Yelm History Project interviews)

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