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57 Debunking the hot car scenario

Dude and Pelling believe SM was in the blackmarket for stolen cars. They link this theory to the tools he carried and a blackmarket relationship with the soon-to-be husband of the woman who recognised him.

Pelling floated a theory about the Francis book and the slip – saying SM would have used these as markers, and as a means of enforcing his blackmarket contract if it went sour.

They both believe SM was in town to meet Prosper Thomson.

PT’s record is well known, as is Detective Canney’s knowledge of the local hot-car racket. An update of his activities can be found somewhere on Pelling’s site, a contribution by Sanders. Canney sounds a little like Bumper Farrell in his pursuits of the unwary and unlawful.

Bumper on the job.

So Canney would have known what these miscreants used to wire up a car. One of his many jobs was to collar as many of them as he could on a working day.

Dozens of cases over time.

PC Sutherland was the court copper, courts where evidence was submitted: Implements Car-Stealing for the use of.

Dozens of cases over time.

That being the case, why didn’t Canney and Sutherland, both members of the investigative team, come to the same conclusion about the tools as Pelling and The Dude?



The tools, less screwdriver.

17 Comments Post a comment
  1. Clive #

    That’s a very good question, I’m assuming that car thieves in the 1940’s would all use very similar tools ‘in their trade’. So, as you ask, why didn’t the implements found in the suitcase give the SM’s man game away? Was it that, apart from the ‘wrong’ implements in the suitcase, his hands were too manicured etc to have been used in the car stealing business?

    August 22, 2018
    • Way to go, Clive, we’re backing a winner here ..

      August 22, 2018
  2. thedude747 #

    Move over Jake and the fat man here comes “Pelling and The Dude”

    Firstly as a broad response if we accept that SM was NOT a time traveller who fell to earth as has been suggested then discovering the identity of SM was not an impossible task if managed correctly by the SA cops at the time. But they failed

    The fact that the local cops were unable to get the job done says that they made mistakes. They missed clues, they followed did ends and they got sucked in to red herrings Canney and Sutherland failed. The SA police failed. If they were that clever they would have nailed it and we would not be here now. Pete would be on the beach with a longboard in one hand and chiko roll in the other.

    This is by the way a far to common story in my home town. Unsolved crimes in SA are as common as man buns at flea market. When they are finally solved by some fluke the failures are usually exposed as oversights , missed clues , balls ups or just sheer incompetence.

    The tool kit was probably more sophisticated than what these boys had seen at street level where a brick and screw driver was the usual apparatus. The hand made sheaths were for carrying the tools in the pockets.

    August 22, 2018
  3. Dude … you were in a bubble mate, and it’s been popped …. The hardest thing to do in this online junior detective game is to give up a theory. But you’re like a f.cken barnacle with yours and good luck to you.

    But it’s over. Pelling too.

    August 22, 2018
  4. thedude747 #

    This bubble boy is hanging fat. Looks like the new AG in SA is going to let Abbott do his thing. I saw Abbot buying a shovel at Bunnings this arvie. I will say as far as barnacles go hats of to the army of barnacles hanging on to the spy theory for 70 years based on nothing more than some random tracings on a book.

    August 22, 2018
  5. thedude747 #

    PS SM doco premiering at Mercury cinema in Adelaide tomorrow night. Sold out. Apparently includes interview with Jestyn’s sister and other know character and witness.

    August 22, 2018
    • I’m betting the honourable Feltus isn’t within a thousand miles of it.

      August 22, 2018
  6. thedude747 #

    Apparently 3 cold case cops from SA place will be in attendance according to the Adelaide Advertiser. No way Feltus would be caught dead there but I do expect to see the Professor.

    August 22, 2018
    • I’d appreciate it if you kept in touch, Dude …

      August 22, 2018
  7. thedude747 #

    Shall do.

    August 22, 2018
  8. Byron Deveson #

    The piece of wrinkled metal sheet (foil) isn’t a piece of “zinc”, or “zinc plate” as it has been previously described. There was no commonly available metal, metal alloy or metal sheet that was available in 1948 that could look like the piece of metal sheet that was found in the suitcase. The fine wrinkles in the sheet, the colour and the general appearance suggest that the metal is either pure (chemical reagent grade 99.99%) zinc foil, or platinum foil. I can’t see a car thief getting hold of these items, but a serious prospector in 1948 would have had these items in his prospecting kit. Along with a brush, and a loupe.

    Zinc foil can be used in a test for arsenic in a mineral sample (called the Gutzeit test) and in a test for the common tin mineral cassiterite (which is found in economic amounts in Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia amongst other places. Tasmania was still a major tin producer in 1948).
    Platinum foil can be used in a number of minerals. For further details see:
    “Identification and qualitative chemical analysis of minerals” by Orsino C. Smith, and
    “Fortunes in Minerals”. Ion Idriess.

    August 22, 2018
    • Byron, I remember a discussion some years ago about the part image that some thought was a loupe end … was it ever resolved?

      August 22, 2018
  9. Byron Deveson #

    no, I don’t remember that it was resolved so the identification of the loupe is questionable.

    August 23, 2018
  10. Clive #

    As Byron mentions, a serious prospector would have had the zinc/platinum foil amongst his prospecting kit. This leads to the question, surely the South Australian Police would have been able to realize that fact? Or, was the zinc/platinum foil overlooked due to sheer incompetence etc. It would seem that all the police were interested in was the clothes in the suitcase and not much else.

    August 23, 2018
  11. thedude747 #

    I’m sure that’s possible BD
    However I don’t think we can realistically determine the composition of this material with any scientific certainty based on the grainy image we have here. It could just as easily be the foil from a juicy fruit pack.
    On the “foil” In my research I spoke to an Adelaide car dealer of that era (a relative). I was hoping he may have known PT given Adelaide is a small town and the car trade was pretty cliquey ( I grew up with relatives in the car game and it was a pretty dodgy scene) There was always something getting around that had “fallen of the back of a truck” One funny story was how if they had a punter bring back a car for repairs too many times they would stick a frozen fish carcass inside the door panel. It would take a few days for the fish to go rotten so the punter never made the connection. The just had a car that became very stinky, But that’s another story.
    My relative did definitely know of PT but did not know him personally or have any dealings with him. However in general conversation he described how when moving cars around the yard they learned to hot wire them by sliding the foil from a lifesavers packet behind the ignition. This was just old trick they picked up to save them having to go back and forth to the office rummaging through to determine which keys belonged to which vehicle.
    I told him about the tool kit and he agreed that these would be the perfect set of tools to pinch a car. He did in fact on numerous occasions have to re posses cars from loan defaulters and it was common to sneak around at night and hotwire them.

    August 23, 2018
  12. Keeping the identity of SM secret was of such importance they had the most senior of the detectives on the case, a detective sergeant and desk wallah, on his feet and on the street for the duration. Evidence was tampered with, a deposition was blatantly false, normal policing procedures were not followed.
    This is new information. The debate about his tools and their possible uses was old when I joined the party about eight years ago.

    August 23, 2018
  13. thedude747 #

    We shall see Pete. Exhumation is now likely under the new AG.

    Managed to snare literally the last seat to tonites premiere of the SM doco thanks to the director. Top bloke. . Lets see what it turns up.

    August 23, 2018

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