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Were the tools were used for stealing cars?


The square of metal foil. 

Used as a conductor, linking the ignition and starter button wiring, enabling the car to be started without a key.

The scissors.

Used to strip ignition wires of their sheathing prior to connecting them and starting the ignition sequence, enabling the car to be started without a key.

The table-knife snapped to a point.

Used in place of an ignition key, and used in a similar, exploratory fashion as a lock-pick. It could also be used to gain entry to a locked car by picking the door-lock.

The brush.

Used to apply graphite (a lubricant) to the innards of the ignition or door lock prior to inserting the knife point. 

The pencils.

A source of graphite. He had six of them.

The black powder shaken from the brush.



And his name was Keane
41 Comments Post a comment
  1. Maybe, but if you’re going to rebith stolen cars from interstate, you’re going to need to forge the paperwork.

    February 13, 2020
  2. Clive #

    What’s the betting that Prosper had the paperwork and know how at his fingertips?

    February 13, 2020
  3. He proved that by switching the Willys title when he bought a Chevy on HP in Vic before being sprung in WA when he tried to trade the Chevy as owned outright as shown on the forged Willys title for a Fiat and forty-five quid.

    February 13, 2020
  4. thedude747 #

    Prosper was trying to flog of 3 extra seats on his Jan 9th Melbourne run Pete so he may well have had company on that trip.

    Also worth noting that he was was trying to get people to “send bank cheques” for his expensive camera equipment he was trying to flog in the Brisbane chronicle (note he never used the phone number in those ads) just the po box.

    These ads ran one month prior to Keane arriving in Adelaide. Remember that is is alleged Keane’s ROK also contained the ph number of a local bank.

    Could it be that Keane sent a bank cheque from Brisbane but never saw his LIECA Camera and arrived to collect on his goods or get reimbursement or information from the bank. Information such as the address or phone number of the person who cashed his bank cheque.

    February 14, 2020
    • I’d like a squiz at that camera ad, dude, can you point me in its direction.

      February 14, 2020
  5. thedude747 #

    Note he was asking 150 pounds for the camera equipment so a sum well worth chasing up.

    February 14, 2020
  6. thedude747 #

    Apologies, Brisbane ads were Nov 49 not 48.
    See Brisbane Telegraph Saturday November 5th of 49 Pete. Advertises under P M Thomson from Po box 953 H. Seeks 135 quid for some as new Camera gear and presents as a professional camera dealer which wasn’t entirely accurate

    February 14, 2020
    • I still like the idea of Keane flying into Adelaide on Nov 30 .. his name on a passenger list. What’s the chance of ever seeing a copy ?

      February 14, 2020
  7. thedude747 #

    Who’s to say Keane didn’t arrive in a car driven by our man given his regular habit of selling off his spare seats to randoms on his intestate trips.

    February 14, 2020
    • Going to be tough to tie that in with him being at the railway station on the 30th and booking his bag.

      February 14, 2020
  8. thedude747 #

    Railway station would be a standard drop of point for interstate travelers. You could get a shower next door at the city baths , a locker and your at the center of the local transport hub.

    February 14, 2020
    • Old ground, and why would Thomson drop him there ?

      February 14, 2020
  9. Clive #

    Prosper was advertising camera for sale: see “The Advertiser” 7 July 1948 Page 8 and again, 31 July 1948 Page 7.

    February 14, 2020
    • So, if he’s selling cameras, why not a watch and a gun? Here’s me arguing with the bloke in the mirror again.

      February 14, 2020
  10. Byron Deveson #

    SM’s hair carries anomalous amounts of silver. Maybe SM was a photographer and the silver came from the fixing baths.

    February 14, 2020
    • Jester.

      Why would Thomson advertise a camera in Qld when his patch was Adelaide ? .. this was my question addressed to Huxley’s Door of Perception, which can always be unlocked.

      Because it went missing in Adelaide .. and nobody in the business shits on their own doorstep.

      February 14, 2020
    • Or etching photolithogray to create forgeries of documents. Example

      February 15, 2020
      • Pete, are we still talking about Mr Keane’s tools?

        February 15, 2020
        • The tools in the suitcase, allegedly related to the corpse found upon the beach in Somerton, could well be for crude etching upon some soft metal, and the application of Rosin to create a imprint. Maybe a stamp, or a forged signature, or some overstamp upon a real document to a forged change of ownership etc.
          The real question, is whether the suitcase was deposited ante or post mortem. Did it belong to Somerton Man, or was it planted by his murderer? Are the contents clues to his identity, or are some or all of tge contents planted to obfuscate the investigation of his identity?

          February 15, 2020
          • There are only five tools, Pete, how does your etcher employ ALL of them ?

            February 15, 2020
            • Scissors for cutting soft metal. Knife for etching metal by hand. Brush for depositing rosin into etching. Pencils as source of rosin, and or to make handcdrwn deposits. Hair clip to hold paper against metal. Just need source of grease. Something like Brylcream

              February 15, 2020
              • How does a graphite pencil morph into a source of rosin?

                February 15, 2020
                • …. and on a minor note, Pete, IT was a hairPIN they found in the suitcase. So I’m guessing that’s the end of your etcher. But the challenge is still on …

                  February 16, 2020
                  • Sorry. Pencil graphite would be a colouring for the rosin. Or if the forgery only has to last long enough to pass a licensing clerk at a South Australian counter to prove transfer of ownership in Victoria, maybe any old ink will do.
                    Stealing a car is the easy bit. Passing it off as your own is the hard bit. But is the suitcase Prosper’s? Cobbled together with SM’s clothes and other stuff, then deposited at the Station locker to throw everyone off?
                    SM’s body might tell you more than the suitcase. The mineral composition of his bones, teeth, fingernails and hair would be useful to trace where he grew up and the places that he moved to as each accumulates minerals in different time frames. Bones in childhood, teeth soon afterwards, fingernails in lasy year, hairover last few weeks etc. And then there’s the DNA that could be usefull if we can find any relatives that are close enough. The body might tell us a lot. Have you studied the autopsy? Was he circumcised for instance? Did he have tattoos or scars? These and the lack of them can tell you a fair bit about what he was or wasn’t. But doesn’t give you his identity. Hopefully there might be a picture of him in NAA or some report somwhere that’ll be dug up if everyone keeps digging away at old records as they’re digitised.

                    February 16, 2020
                    • We go with what we got, Pete, and we ain’t got no rosin.

                      February 16, 2020
                    • We probably ain’t got no Snowy Rowles either. If vehicle thievery was his occupation, it ain’t giving up his name.

                      February 16, 2020
  11. Clive #

    Hairpin for door lock?

    February 16, 2020
  12. thedude747 #

    Going back to Clive ” Prosper had the paperwork and know how at his fingertips” thats entirely correct.
    The access to bona fide documents is the key to the whole deal. Ive called this the Thomson twins scam. Prosper has the bona fide documents of a genuinely sourced car , and provides location of identical model car in SA to Keane.

    Keane arrives in town, obtains location of the “twin” from PT

    (NOTE I wonder why PT advertised for specific model cars in his adds )

    Keane goes out late at night tool kit in pocket. Steals car , obtains documents from PT and he’s back on the road to Melbourne with documents to appease any local plod on the trip home .

    Arrives back in Melbourne ready to rebirth.

    Two things are certain about the tool kit in my mind.
    1 The tools were hand made therefor unconventional suggesting they were not related to a mainstream trade

    2 They were fashioned to be carried in the pocket because of the size hand made sheaths. Therefor suggesting to me that they were concealable.

    February 17, 2020
    • The sheathing also protected his (trouser) pockets from the sharp ends.

      February 17, 2020
  13. thedude747 #

    To be clear with my point in above post. A car dealer advertising to the general public for near new cars “will pay cash top price” is not exactly a winning business model for a car dealer.
    Second hand car dealers do not and have not operated that way.

    They buy through auctions and paying bottom dollar for trade ins. OR Traditionally and still today Adelaide dealers buy in Melbourne.

    I am suggesting that if PT was in the black market car business and was seeking the location of near new popular model cars , or in fact was told by an interstate contact that they had a black market buyer for a particular model near new car that advertising in this way could be the ideal way of locating such cars and getting a free inspection and a good look at the location and potential risks order to provide instructions to his partners in crime.

    February 17, 2020
  14. Clive #

    “Will pay cash top price” may have been Prosper’s slogan in his ads, but I wonder what the reality was when someone contacted him?

    February 17, 2020
  15. thedude747 #

    perhaps it was let me come and inspect it. From there he gets to see where it is garaged or not garaged and all sorts of other information a would be thief may need.

    February 17, 2020
  16. PT wasn’t troubled about going interstate to conclude his business, remembering his trip to WA in the Chevy with false papers and his ads in QLD papers for cameras. So, if he was involved in an inter-state car-thieving ring as a step-up he may have used SM to source the stock available.


    SM swipes a car in Old … then hides it in a Brisbane lockup and telephones PT on X3239 with the good news.

    then …

    PT places an ad for the same model and waits for a customer as he doctors up a title.

    then …

    SM drives (or ships) the car to Adelaide. Or, if there is some trust between them, waits for PT to sell the unit then deposit his share of the proceeds into a bank, account number previously notified and written down for easy reference. Same as he wrote down PT’s phone number.

    February 17, 2020
  17. thedude747 #

    Further to my suspicion that the tool kit was fashioned to be concealed in the pockets just found an article I haven’t previously seen on page 6 of the Advertiser on January 5th of 49.

    Article states that one of the pockets of trousers found in the suitcase were repaired with the unique style same cotton used to repair buttons found on T Keane.

    Who has ever had to sew a hole in their pockets??

    If these were tools for a regular trade they would be carried in a tool box or tool belt .

    Unless one was carrying a sharp knife and scissors around in their pockets in order to conceal them.

    February 17, 2020
  18. Clive #

    Do we know what QLD car registrations were in 1948?

    February 17, 2020
    • All numbers – I had an inexpert search via google, hoping some were alpha.

      February 17, 2020
  19. Clive #

    Interesting bit of information in “Cairns Post” 17 Nov 1947 Page 5.

    February 17, 2020
    • How could a cheque be ‘faked’ with a biro?

      February 17, 2020
      • Got it. … maybe. Perhaps the biro ink was too close in colour to the colour the bank used.

        February 17, 2020

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