Automobile Thieves

Shortly after the introduction of cars came car thieves. According to an Omaha-based magazine, the worst thieves weren’t the ones that stole the whole car, but those that took specific parts.

The introduction of automobiles was soon followed by the appearance of automobile thieves. The Motorist (Omaha) in its August 1920 issue denounced automobile-related crime, especially the “strong tendency now to steal parts or accessories, rather than the whole car.”

It may be a wheel, a set of tires, curtains, a carburetor, a magneto, or what not. It may be only a few tools.

A recent letter to THE MOTORIST from a Nebraska truck dealer is an instance of this. The dealer, Fred E. Johnson, Nebraska City, wrote in part: ‘While taking a truck to Hamburg, Ia., it got stuck in the mud up to the hubs. As we did not have any chains, we had to leave it all night. When we went to drive it on the next day, the Dixie magneto and the whistle had been stolen.’ Johnson is considerably aroused and is offering a reward for any clue that will lead to the arrest of the thief.

This tendency has been in evidence in cities for some time. An insurance man from a middle-western municipality remarked the other day: ‘We do not lose much now on stolen cars, but we certainly have been hit hard on stolen accessories recently. Of course, they have been taking spare tires and wheels for some time. Then they began to jack up the cars and take the tires off the wheels.

The other night a man left his car parked in front of a friend’s house for a time. He came out, stepped on the starter and threw her into gear. Bang, the axle crashed to the ground. Those accessory thieves had taken his jack from the car, jacked it up, removed one of the wheels and taken it away, leaving the car jacked up so that the owner did not notice anything was wrong until he started it.

Let a car be injured in a wreck and if it is not guarded everything of any value that can be removed without a full-fledged machine shop, quietly fades away in the night. Curtains volplane away out of reach. There is one recent record of a Ford owner who found that the whole top of his car had disappeared. The rear curtain had been cut with a knife, and the top lifted right off.” The Motorist called for “a still more vigorous policy against automobile thieves, no matter whether they are trying to remove the car bodily, or vivisect it.

 

Become a Member!

Our members make history happen.

Join Now

You May Also Enjoy

The Huskers wore blue jerseys for Memorial Stadium’s first game

The Huskers wore blue jerseys for Memorial Stadium’s first game

Recent Archeological Work at Ft. Atkinson

Recent Archeological Work at Ft. Atkinson

Willie Nelson FarmAid Concert

Willie Nelson FarmAid Concert

About History Nebraska
History Nebraska was founded in 1878 as the Nebraska State Historical Society by citizens who recognized Nebraska was going through great changes and they sought to record the stories of both indigenous and immigrant peoples. It was designated a state institution and began receiving funds from the legislature in 1883. Legislation in 1994 changed History Nebraska from a state institution to a state agency. The division is headed by Interim Director and CEO Jill Dolberg. They are assisted by an administrative staff responsible for financial and personnel functions, museum store services, security, and facilities maintenance for History Nebraska.
Explore Nebraska
Discover the real places and people of our past at these History Nebraska sites.

Upcoming Events

View our new and upcoming events to see how you can get involved.

Become a Member

The work we do to discover, preserve, and share Nebraska's history wouldn't be possible without the support of History Nebraska members.

Latest Hall of Fame Inductee

The Nebraska Hall of Fame was established in 1961 to officially recognize prominent Nebraskans.

Become a Member

The work we do to discover, preserve, and share Nebraska's history wouldn't be possible without the support of History Nebraska members.
Nebraska Collections

History Nebraska's mission is to collect, preserve, and open our shared history to all Nebraskans.

Our YouTube Video Collection

Get a closer look at Nebraska's history through your own eyes, with our extensive video collections.

Additional Research Resources

History Nebraska Research and Reference Services help connect you to the material we collect and preserve.

Support History Nebraska
Make a cash donation to help us acquire, preserve, and interpret Nebraska’s history. Gifts to History Nebraska help leave a legacy and may help your taxes, too! Support the work of History Nebraska by donating to the History Nebraska Foundation today.

Volunteers are the heroes of History Nebraska. So much history, so little time! Your work helps us share access to Nebraska’s stories at our museums and sites, the reference room, and online.