Press Releases


DCP Alerts Consumers to the Dangers of Certain Recalled Chests

HARTFORD, October 21, 2015 – The Department of Consumer Protection (DCP), in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), is warning consumers and resellers to immediately disable cedar chests with lids that automatically latch shut when closed.  These chests pose a real threat to children who may be locked inside with tragic results.   

Recently, a brother and sister, ages seven and eight, died in Franklin, Massachusetts after suffocating inside one of the chests.  An investigation pertaining to this most recent incident determined that the lid on the 75-year-old Lane cedar chest closed and automatically latched shut, locking the children inside the chest.  The second-hand Lane cedar chest was bought from a local resale store approximately 13 years ago.

To prevent further tragedies, DCP Commissioner Jonathan A. Harris urges consumers to immediately:

  • Check their homes for “Lane” and “Virginia Maid” brand cedar chests;
  • Remove the latch from Lane/Virginia Maid cedar chests immediately; and
  • Contact Lane to receive new replacement hardware that does not automatically latch shut.  The new hardware can be easily installed by consumers in the comfort of their own homes.

Commissioner Harris also warns retailers, to immediately stop selling recalled chests.

DCP and CPSC inspectors conducted over fifty compliance checks at second hand stores last year to check for recalled items and educate businesses on how to identify recalled items before they get into the hands of consumers.  Inspectors found four Lane Chests with intact locking devices in September.  

“At DCP one of our top priorities is to give consumers the information they need to protect themselves.  Today, we’re alerting consumers to potential dangers lurking in their homes from these chests and providing them with information they can use to protect themselves, their families and guests in their homes.”  Harris said.  “Consumers should take immediate steps to remove any chest of this type from their homes or disable the lock.  Also, when visiting a resale establishment, consignment shop or making an on-line purchase, consumers should not purchase a dangerous chest and if they do, disable the lock immediately”

Harris went on to state that, “Resellers must not resell these chests with the automatic locks.  They are extremely dangerous, have been recalled and should not be sold.  Disable the locks or do not sell them.”

The Lane Company, Inc. recalled 12 million chests in 1996 with latches that automatically locked the lid when closed. Lane continues to offer new latches free of charge that do not automatically lock and, therefore, do not create a risk of children becoming trapped inside the chests.   The original recall reported several deaths and near fatalities, associated with suffocation inside the chests.     

Commissioner Harris reported that the original style latches on all “Lane” and “Virginia Maid” brand cedar chests manufactured between 1912 and 1987 need to be replaced for safety purposes.  Chests can be identified by the brand name “Lane” or “Virginia Maid” located inside the cedar chest (see photos below).  These chests are often handed down through generations or may be purchased second-hand.

For certain chests made between 1912 and 1940, consumers will receive hardware that does not latch. For chests made from 1940 to present, consumers will receive hardware that does not automatically latch when closed and requires a person outside the chest to latch and lock the lid. If you own a similar hope chest or cedar chest that is not part of the recall, disable or remove the latch/lock for safety. 

Consumers with questions or who need to order hardware should call Contact Lane toll-free at (800) 327-6944, Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. CT, or access their web site at to order the free replacement hardware. When contacting Lane Home Furniture, consumers should have the chest's serial and style numbers, which are branded on the outside bottom or back of the chest.                               

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Media Contact: Holly Maurice


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