During the holiday season, chimneys are on the minds of children and adults more than any other time of the year. The chimney isn’t usually given a lot of consideration other than at Christmastime, besides during the annual chimney inspection by a professional chimney sweep. But some of the most unexpected things have been found in chimneys when they were least expected.
Police in the United Kingdom found the current U.S. equivalent of $1.5 million stashed in a chimney in Bradford on December 23, 2008. It was the largest criminal cash seizure in the city’s history. The ill-gotten gains belonged to a conman who acquired his cache through fraud. The police confiscated the money, which was found in no doubt the most valuable chimney in the UK; and the man who stashed it there was arrested and imprisoned for his crimes.
Dead Cats and Shoes
According to a superstition which motivated many Australian settlers to hide either a shoe or a dead cat in their chimneys, the practice caused evil spirits to scatter. It’s believed that this strange custom made its way to Australia through Britain, but it originated in Rome. There’s no evidence that the superstition was followed in the U.S., which may be a relief to anyone with an older home.
Santa Claus has inspired many people to attempt accessing a home through the chimney – not to leave gifts, but to steal valuables. Through history, thieves have tried sliding down chimneys in order to make entry into the homes of the wealthy. Chimneys are extremely narrow, however, and only a small child can usually fit. As a result, thieves sometimes get caught by getting stuck. In Atlanta, Georgia, a teenager spent 10 hours wedged inside a chimney before someone heard him screaming for help and called the police. The officers helped the teen exit the chimney and then promptly escorted him to jail.
Those who get stuck in chimneys don’t always get out alive. There have been occasions when people have tried to enter a building through a chimney and then got stuck and died there. If you ever detect a horrible odor coming from your chimney, it’s probably safe to assume that you smell a dead animal. But, either way, it’s best to call a professional to diagnose and solve the odor problem – just in case.
A 100-year old letter to Santa was found in a chimney by a man in Dublin, Ireland. The letter, which had only a small amount of burn damage, was in astonishingly good condition. The Christmas wish to Santa was from two children and included a list of toys and treats along with some illustrations. The children closed their letter to Santa Claus by wishing him good luck.
Have you had your annual chimney inspection and cleaning? There’s no telling what’s up there!
Northeastern Chimney, Inc.
formerly Nayaug Chimney Services, LLC
37 Cody Street, West Hartford, CT 06110