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Vigo’s Man. Another stolen car scenario.

The Racket.

In 1948, European, South American and Central American markets were hungry for cars from the States. Blah Blah* and his network set out to meet the international demand.

Already delivering a hundred cars a week on a national scale, he added a hundred a month for export, to be sold at fantastically high prices and through seemingly legitimate “fronts” to reputable shipping agents for resale abroad.
The ring was now a huge, invisible industry. Youths were brought in and trained in stealing cars. They were told what models to steal and in what neighborhoods. They were given the exact location of “drops.”

Each operation was specialized. A payoff man gave the kid his $50 at some pre-designated place. Another man switched license plates on the car that “drop point.” Still another drove the car to a die-out garage. Here more experts went to work, using specially developed techniques to change serial and engine numbers.

The car was given a complete spray-gun paint job — by an expert.
Locks were removed and replaced by new locks and keys. The interior was vacuumed, pockets and trunks emptied, tires changed or shifted around, every possible identification changed or eliminated.

Other undercover men worked their way into the confidence of the ring’s underlings and in the fall of 1953 the agents began setting up a big deal. It would involve hundreds of cars for shipment overseas.

*Gabriel blahblah the blackman Vigorito

Taken FromWill Oursler, “Hot Car King, The American Weekly, January 9, 1955, 7ff.

my bold, dude for the heads up

No mention was made of Vigorito ever shipping cars to Australia.


But if he did  ..

How it would work.

Vigorito is at the dock, watching one of his near-new Oldsmobiles being lifted up and into the hold. Lifted and lowered with great care as Vigo has influence everywhere.

Car despatched.

some weeks later ..

One of Vigo’s men watched just as closely as the car was lowered to the Adelaide dockside. An hour later he was driving it to a lockup.

Car secured.

A prospective buyer arrives and approves the merchandise.

Car sold.

The buyer hands his cash to Vigo’s man. Who is accountable only to Vigo without the interference of banks or wire transfers.

Car paid for.

Increase that scenario to a shipment of a dozen of Vigo’s cars to various Aus ports and by the time the job’s done Vigo’s man has too much cash to fit into his pockets and has to stuff it into his spare socks and carry it around in a suitcase.


And there’s enough this time to tempt a man to keep it. Not go home.

Find the girl.

And hope Vigo doesn’t find him.

Because that will mean the end.


On the morning of December 1948 a man was found dead on Somerton Beach. A slip of paper in his pocket reading Tamam Shud.


Look for Persia.


20 Comments Post a comment
  1. пожалуйста #

    Tantalising to think of Keane as ‘Our Man in Melbourne’ (or Sydney), washed up in fly-blown Adelaide. On the lam, with a sock full of illicit gains from Blah Blah’s coffers and a couple of goons on his tail.

    But I’m not sure what you’re driving at with Persia? Except for our man’s Zoroastrian sky burial.

    May 2, 2020
    • Boris, mate! Tamam Shud, the hitter was one of Vito’s men who flew out from Persia to do the job.

      May 2, 2020
  2. dude47 #

    Because we live in different times people don’t quite get how big a deal the car thieving rings were in the late 40 early 50s Check out the early 50s exploitation film “cars cars cars”

    Blah Blah was the man !

    May 2, 2020
    • Bloke had a contact in Persia … probably sold a fleet of cadillacs to the Pahlavi.

      May 2, 2020
  3. пожалуйста #

    Blimey… OK, I see that now. I guess I didn’t even make that connection because the Rubaiyat was such a popular tome of the day in its English translation, the actual book was an NZ edition, there was a pre-existing connection between Jess and the Rubaiyat, etc.

    It would be interesting to find out if Blah Blah had disposed of anyone previously and whether he sent his heavies out with a specific instruction on MO. Mafia hits are a crude cipher in themselves, easily decoded by those for whom the message is intended.

    And was he originally Sicily, Naples or Calabria? Perhaps the answer to that could point toward a possible ready-made franchise operation in Australia?

    May 2, 2020
    • The Mafia was established in Australia at the time … there’s a mention of it here somewhere.

      May 2, 2020
  4. пожалуйста #

    Quick check suggest Blah Blah’s heritage is likely Campania. Hence Naples. Hence Camorra. But the society may not have been active itself in Australia. It has a tradition of allying with other forces though, including ‘Ndrangheta and Cosa Nostra.

    May 2, 2020
  5. lewiansto #

    Or… Perhaps SM was Vigo’s man in Australia but the guys in charge of the local car thieving rings didn’t want anyone muscling in on their turf so SM was whacked and left as a message: “This is our turf, f*#k off Vigo!”

    May 4, 2020
  6. The babe, Lou, you have to fit the babe in.

    May 4, 2020
    • lewiansto #

      Dodgy cars was Prosper’s thing. Babe just got caught up in it, maybe?

      May 4, 2020
  7. пожалуйста #

    Jess is likely a stronger connection to SM than Prosper is. The connection with her is the Rubaiyat and various unusual physical traits evident in her ostensibly fatherless child. The connection with Prosper is the guess that everyone else misjudged the “tools” (police conclude stencilling, Byron concludes prospecting, Gordon Cramer concludes conspiratorial “litter”, etc etc) and that they were actually a thief’s kit.

    If SM is in Glenelg for Prosper, that’s one hell of a coincidence. Or evidence of a (criminal ?) menage-a-trois: either Jess made the introductions between SM and Prosper. Or SM was known to Prosper in his younger years… and it was Prosper who introduced Jess to SM.

    May 5, 2020
  8. dude47 #

    Is there really that much connection to Jess? The very popular book just happened to be the same book (not the same copy) she gave to a dude years earlier during the war.

    The teeth and the ears well maybe , Ive never been convinced

    May 5, 2020
    • пожалуйста #

      A very popular book that happened to have her phone number in it? OK, we can argue about how it got there. But it’s a connection.

      All of this is circumstantial, of course, but Rubaiyat aside, the connection with Jess isn’t only the teeth and ears of her son.

      Jess’s history seems to suggest that she ‘dropped out of view’ to have the child. Leaves Sydney, goes back to parents. Although she hooks up with Prosper at some point, it seems evident that the child is fatherless.

      Some 18 months after the birth, SM turns up a couple of streets away.

      Eye-witness reports suggest someone had previously been looking for “the nurse” who lived there. (Not sure how reliable this is)

      Eye-witnesses state that Jess reacts very strongly to the torso cast. They interpret that as an indication she knew the deceased.

      Jess later encourages her son to take up ballet ‘out of the blue’ (not sure how reliable this is). He becomes a professional dancer. Some of SM’s physical characteristics suggest he may have been a dancer.

      Jess’s family subsequently state that she revealed she knew who the deceased was.

      It all adds up. Maybe.

      May 5, 2020
      • Harkness knew some Russian words .. remembered perhaps from conversations with a patient.

        May 5, 2020
        • пожалуйста #

          There are no patient records anywhere?

          You’d think eventually someone would come along and say “I remember that time on the ward in ’46. Fella in the bed next to me didn’t speak a word of English, but still managed to charm the nurses”.

          May 6, 2020
          • The code isn’t random … maybe it’s a bedside phonetic exercise with a Russian speaker and a copy of the book.

            May 6, 2020
  9. dude47 #

    Maybe old mate maybe but its a VERY well-trodden ground that has led nowhere for 70 years.
    The time has to come where you have to say, maybe there’s no fish in this pond. Maybe we need to fish somewhere else. Maybe we’re in the wrong spot.

    I think Jess did know Keane but through George and that is why she lost her shit when she saw his bust and reality hit about what George may have done.

    I say a book that happened to have HIS phone number in it. A business number widely distributed by George across several states and regions throughout SA including Mount Gambier Broken Hill and Port Lincoln to name but a few.

    Yes, Jess had a baby out of wedlock and fell off the radar. Very common at the time for unwed girls at the time.

    The reports about the guy looking for the nurse are weak and the timelines not right.

    Jess was by accounts of close friends was a drama queen. I don’t believe she spoke Russian and was a spy for one minute.

    May 5, 2020
    • Neither am I, dude, but it’s a fact, according to dear daughter, and the facts about young Harkness aren’t many.

      May 5, 2020
    • пожалуйста #

      If Jess knew him through George, when did they meet for the first time? Is SM someone from George’s past as much as from hers?

      May 6, 2020
  10. dude47 #

    I believe Keane spent time between midday and late afternoon early evening at 90a Mosley st Glenelg on the day he died .

    I believe Jess met him on that day at Mosley st. Maybe she met him that day for the first time or maybe she had met him on a previous visit.

    I believe that he was a guy in town to do business (or damage to George) George.

    George had a well recorded history of shafting business partners.

    George also had a history of going to extremes when cornered including making threats to others and to himself.

    May 6, 2020

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