Stanley Robert Smith: No Regrets


Suspect Taken by Police Believed Connected With Group From Toledo

The “fence” for a ring of automobile thieves operating in this section of the country is believed to have been uncovered here by police in the arrest of Stanley Smith, 23, who on March 16, 1932, was paroled from Ohio penitentiary after serving time for forgery.

Charges of receiving, concealing and selling stolen automobiles have been placed against Smith, who used a barn on Park street in which to conceal and dismantle his machines.  Numerous accessories for automobiles have also been found there.

Smith, it is believed, has been connected with a theft ring operating out of Toledo.  None of nine automobiles recovered following Smith’s arrest was stolen in Findlay.  It is presumed that any cars stolen by the ring of thieves here were taken to some other “fence” and disposed of.

Learned at Pen, He Says

It was indicated by Chief Larkins yesterday that Smith would be returned to the penitentiary as a parole violator.

Smith, according to his statement to police, said that during his incarceration in the “big house” he got the low-down on the automobile stealing and dismantling racket from a “lifer” who was his cell mate.  When paroled, he told police he had planned to take up bank robbing as an occupation but later decided to go in for a “more legitimate” business such as stealing and dismantling and selling cars.

J. P. Rockenfield, special agent for the Automobile Protective and Information bureau of Chicago, stopped here yesterday to make an investigation of the case.  Chief Larkins said Rockenfield commended his department on its effective work.  He suspected Smith of being connected with a big mid-west ring.  The automobiles recovered here are thought to have been stolen in neighboring states.

Suspicions Aroused

Smith’s automobile dealing aroused the suspicions of certain individuals who notified police and they in turned launched an investigation.  Going to the barn on Park street, Chief Larkins and Sergeant Homer Johnston found the body and chassis of a machine, and automobile parts strewn all over the inside of the building.  It was while they were looking the ground over that Smith appeared nearby and observing the officers he made a hasty retreat.

The police proceeded in hot pursuit and finally corralled Smith in an alley between East Lima and East Lincoln streets.  This was last Monday.  Smith explained that he was running because he “thought it was somebody else chasing him.”

Reticent at first, Smith later admitted his part in the automobile racket, but he refused to implicate any others, although he admitted to disposing of the cars to men he claimed he didn’t know after lifting the motors and installing new engines.

“Didn’t Know Men”

According to Smith’s story to authorities, these men he didn’t know would bring an automobile to his barn at night.  He, then, would dismantle it, lifting the motor and removing identification numbers.

Later the men would return and take away with them the engine.  Smith said he would in turn purchase another motor and install it.  This, he felt, eliminated any possibility of the original owner tracing his stolen machine, and enabled him to furnish a bill of sale.

Five of the nine stolen machines were recovered in Findlay, one in Bluffton, one in Arcadia, one in Bairdstown and one in Toledo.  Seven are Ford coaches, one is a Ford coupe and one is a Chevrolet coach.  Three or four additional cars are expected by police to turn up shortly.

One of the machines, a Ford coach, has been identified and returned to its owner, Lester Nelson, of Toledo.

Smith told Chief Larkins that he had been in this racket for four or five months.

“Youth Held Here is Seen ‘Fence’ In Car Theft Ring,” Findlay Morning Republican (Findlay, Ohio), 11 Mar 1933, p 8 col 1.


11 thoughts on “Stanley Robert Smith: No Regrets”

  1. I had to laugh—a legitimate business! Stanley really had no sense of right or wrong. You have to wonder why. Did he have family members who were also on the wrong side of the law? His poor wife and child…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am not aware of any other family members that had legal problems (other than those you’ll learn about shortly–and that gets nipped in the bud).

      This is perhaps a strange interpretation, but the more I’ve learned about Stanley, the more I feel that this was some kind of game for him. His IQ test from Leavenworth indicates that he was extremely intelligent, and yet he left school at 17 without graduating. He charms people time and time again (his wife, various family members, I would guess even the police because both before and after this point, he gets away with some crazy stuff!).

      Eventually his family does get tired of it. Bertha divorces him later on. Cousins have told me that their ancestors who were siblings of Stanley had no tolerance for him and he doesn’t appear in family pictures, even when the entire extended family is there from all over the country and he didn’t live far away.

      I think perhaps he was a master manipulator. Smart and charming. Perfectly aware of how things he said would affect those around him. Even in this article, he lied A LOT to protect others. That’s coming up next post. I think it probably amused him to make a joke of the whole thing and call this a “legitimate business”.


      1. I am wondering whether he had some kind of mental health issue that clouded his judgment. He just seemed to want negative attention and to take risks. But maybe that’s just making excuses for bad behavior.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’ve wondered about his mental health as well, particularly as we’ve heard so much in recent times about personality disorders. Sounds like he could have been suffering from something along these lines.

        I just heard back on my request for his Ohio State reformatory and penitentiary records yesterday, so I should be receiving them in the mail within a few days. Hopefully we’ll learn more from those.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Stanley certainly was quite something…gosh I wish we had video of him giving his police testimony. Teenage bad behavior and then never growing up. I can hardly wait to hear what the reformatory and penitentiary records are going to reveal.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. No, I am just woefully behind on lots of stuff. I had opened a bunch of blog posts from reader and then didn’t get through them all before I opened up a bunch more. I thought the first batch was down to just collection updates and didn’t realize a few were regular old posts. It was all me. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

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