The Call Box

The Call Box: Four Tales of Five Bandits Who Chose the Wrong Profession

By Ed Meckle, Retired LAPD

March 1

with thanks to Melisa Dervaes for editing!

polic-call-box-pedestal-lapd-gamewell-DCAL2786_dt1Working a radio car, we answered a 211 (armed robbery) that had just occurred.

The 20-something female clerk was composed and gave an exceptionally good description of the suspect. I took notes to put out a broadcast.

She concluded with, “What if I knew him?” 

“Ah, that’s good, how?”

“He was in my graduating class from high school four years ago,” she said. 

“Did he recognize you?” 

“Nope,” she said, “I was a blonde then.” 

“How about a name?” 

She said, “I can’t remember but he is bigger and stupider now than he was then.”  “Do you still have your school yearbook?” 

She did, then stated, “Let’s take a ride,” so we did. 

We gave her that ride and then a short time later, we took him for one, too.  Sometimes it’s just that simple.


 Many years later, I was a Detective Sergeant assigned to the Robbery Detail at Wilshire Division. The following crime report came in for the Business Team.


old timer gas stationTwo male suspects entered the gas station in separate vehicles and asked to use the vise in the closed garage area. They proceeded to hacksaw off the barrel of a .12-gauge shotgun in the garage, then used the gun to hold up the attendant. 

At the conclusion of the robbery, one of the vehicles would not start. The suspects were last seen eastbound on Venice Boulevard in a black 1955 Chevrolet, being pushed by a dark blue 1961 Buick. Recovered at the scene and booked as evidence was the discarded shotgun barrel which had the prints from both suspects.


Yet another simple case.


 This report is good for a laugh and “made the rounds” for its suspect description.

The suspect was described as a black male in his mid-20’s, 6’5” to 6’6” tall with a slender build. He wore a blue bandana for a mask and sported a Jordan High School letterman’s jacket with the basketball logo “Tyrone 1961” embroidered over the left breast. 


Another simple case. 


This last story belongs to my partner and myself.


As the suspect was a “novice bandit,” he is referred to in this narrative as “NB.”

Iver_Johnson_Safety_Hammer_in_original_boxNB had obtained an antique .32 caliber revolver, either a Harrington and Richardson or an Iver Johnson. This revolver was a “break open” model and in order to load it, the barrel and the cylinder needed to be tilted forward. A small nut and bolt assembly served as the “hinge pin.”  This particular revolver, however, was missing this nut and bolt assembly and in its place was a bent nail. When NB had selected his victim, he produced this weapon, and somewhere between “stick ‘em up” and “oh s**t,” the nail fell out. Now, logic tells us that the fallen nail was followed by the barrel, followed by the cylinder, followed by all 5 rounds, leaving our hapless NB holding a gun butt with only a trigger and a hammer attached to what used to be a revolver. The victim then produced his own weapon and shot NB in the foot from about 8 feet away, a point-blank shot. After units went on scene, all they had to do was follow the blood drops to NB’s hiding spot that was located several blocks away in a bush. 


To quote the Russian/American comedian Yakov Smirnoff, “is this a great country or what?”



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