Stanley had certainly made plenty of bad decisions in his first twenty-two years of life. We’ve seen a number of documented instances of this over the last few weeks here on the blog.
This time, however, might have been the straw that broke the camel’s back for parts of the Smith family. Others might have been more closely tied to the situation than they would have liked to let on.
Though he apparently tried to cover for his co-conspirators during initial questioning, Stanley did not act alone. Two younger men were arrested shortly after him, one of whom was his sister’s teenage son.1
Call in the Specialists
Stanley’s two young cohorts were probably quite necessary to the business. Though Stanley had learned the ins and outs of selling on stolen cars from his cellmate at the penitentiary2, he was, in fact, a plumber by trade.3
Stanley’s nephew had grown up in his paternal grandfather’s garage in Jenera, 12 miles southwest of Findlay. His father was also a mechanic for the National Refining Company4 and likely expected his sons to assist in repairs to the family’s car over the years.
The third young man, George C. Foster, had worked as a machinist in a garage.5
Without the specialist knowledge of these two, Stanley might not have been able to disassemble and rebuild the 15 cars they were ultimately accused of stealing.
The Chop Shop
It was initially suspected that Stanley was a fence in an auto theft ring operating out of Toledo.6 However, the newspaper articles about the subsequent investigation and trial never again mention these suspected ties. Instead, Stanley is referred to as the “brains” of the operation.7
The three men stole most of the cars in Detroit8 and drove them home to a barn on Park Street in Findlay. There, they dismantled the vehicles, removing identification numbers and replacing the engines with new ones they purchased.9
At this point in time, vehicle identification numbers (VIN) did not exist. Instead, cars were identified by their engine number.
Simply installing a new engine provided Stanley with the ability to furnish a bill of sale.
Moving the Merchandise
The majority of the cars stolen were sold on to unsuspecting individuals in the area.10 The map below shows the location where each of these cars was found:
Findlay: Frank Barger, Glen A. Smith, Leo Friend, C. O. Smith, Theron Arras
Bairdstown: Ray Bell
Bluffton: Carson Marshall
Arcadia: T. J. Eisenhauer
North Baltimore: H. H. Pore
In addition, each of the three men kept one of the cars for himself.
Two of the vehicles had to be dumped. While transporting a Ford coach from Detroit, Stanley began to suspect that he was being shadowed by police. He abandoned the vehicle on state route 106 west of Findlay.11
The now-defunct state route 106 existed only from 1923 to 1937. Its eastern terminus lay in Findlay and it ran roughly southwest to end near Gomer. Route 106 was replaced by an extension to State Route 12.12
The other abandoned car was not located until March 17th. Stanley had confessed during questioning that it could be found in a quarry at the Turley farm south of Findlay. The submerged vehicle was towed out by a local wrecking service. 13
1 “3 Turned Over to Federal Officers,” Findlay Morning Republican (Findlay, Ohio), 16 Mar 1933, p 3 col 7.
2 “Youth Held Here is Seen ‘Fence’ in Car Theft Ring,” Findlay Morning Republican (Findlay, Ohio), 11 Mar 1933, p 8 col 1.
3 Inmate Case Files, compiled 07/03/1895–06/06/1952. ARC ID: 571125. Records of the Bureau of Prisons, 1870–2009, Record Group 129. The National Archives at Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.A., Record for Stanley Robert Smith.
4 R. L. Polk (comp.), R.L. Polk and Co.’s Findlay City Directory, 1933-34 (Columbus, Ohio: R. L. Polk & Co., 1933), p. 49, Oliver M Arras; digitized in “U.S. City Directories, 1821–1899,” database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 18 Sep 2017), path Ohio > Findlay > 1933.
5 1930 U.S. Census, Findlay, Hancock County, Ohio, population schedule, ED 32-14, sheet 6B, dwelling 157, family 159, George C Foster, digital image, Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 18 September 2017); citing NARA microfilm publication T626, roll 1820.
6 “Youth Held Here”
7 “Stolen Auto is Got From Quarry,” Findlay Morning Republican (Findlay, Ohio), 18 Mar 1933, p 14 col 3.
9 “Youth Held Here”
10 “Stolen Auto is Got From Quarry”.
11 “3 Turned Over to Federal Officers”.
12 “List of former state routes in Ohio (50–130),” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=List_of_former_state_routes_in_Ohio_(50%E2%80%93130)&oldid=799792962 (accessed September 18, 2017).
13 “Stolen Auto is Got From Quarry”.