Hot Rod Bandits

Hot Rod Bandits

Shit really hit the fan here in Texas last week… As a result, we lived without power and water for far too long and the Atomic Lab was ruthlessly flooded. We’ve since regained power and I’ve been able to sort of glue our well house back together with spit and chewing gum, but yeah… Cold weather is for the North and not for me.

Anyway, I’ve had a lot of down time in the last week and decided to use much of that to read through some of my archives. One of the things I stumbled upon was an LAPD investigation file. A friend of mine is writing a book about the corruption within the LAPD, found the file in his research, and thought I might be interested. Of course, I was…

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In 1955, three young hot rodders went on a robbery spree in San Francisco. They hit a drug store and a gas station on consecutive days and then attempted to cap the robberies with a bank heist. However, shit went sideways at the financial institution. Apparently, an under-cover security guard got the drop on the boys and they had to flee in their pink 1932 Ford Sedan. Here’s an outtake from the SanFran police report:

“Three men estimated to be between 20 and 30 years old left the scene in a pink Ford sedan without fenders. Witnessed described the car as loud and fast and obviously built for racing…”

The robbery spree was over in San Francisco. However, these boys were not to be deterred. Instead, they picked up two new members for their crew and drove south to Los Angeles. The story gets a little foggy here, but apparently they attempted to knock off another liquor store in LA County before getting involved in a high speed chase with an LAPD motorcycle unit. The chase ended in a crash and the arrest of all five hooligans.

I had planned on writing a full feature of this story in one of our print books. A number of years ago, I applied for the police records through the Freedom of Information Act. I thought scans of the actual paper police reports would look dope in print and I was really excited about flushing this story out. However, the LAPD refused my request without reason and I sort of lost steam on the project.

What I do have, however, is what my buddy gave me – a digital overview of the file. Here’s what’s within:

Date: 1955-11-30
Assignment: Hot Rod Bandits.
Copy mugs: G 305: David Edward Price. G115: Donald E. Robinson. G116: Robert J. Sheppard. G117: Berkley Bryant. G118: Larry Gordon Harris
Notes: Robbery, attempted robbery. Five suspects arrested while fleeing in a modified 1932 Ford Sedan. County of San Francisco. Los Angeles County.

Depending on who you were and where you came from in society, being arrested by the LAPD in 1955 was a real crap shoot with life. It’s obvious that these boys had the shit kicked out of them, but honestly – they are probably lucky to have lived through it. Multiple robberies followed by a police chase didn’t often end with pumping hearts and breathing lungs back then…

The story, however, doesn’t end there. The physical police report included 26 photos and you have to think that at least one of those captured the hot rod getaway car. I’d kill for that image and have decided to renew my efforts in obtaining it.

Further, these boys weren’t done with life yet… One apparently broke out of jail and started a short-lived solo crime career while another did his time and became a crook of a different kind – a politician.

So yeah… We’ve got a lot more to learn about the Hot Rod Bandits. In due time…

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