Ypsilanti Citizen Opinions ]]>

Thank you Ypsilanti
By Dan DuChene & Christine Laughren
Jun. 23, 2010   ·   5:07 p.m.

Christine Laughren and Dan DuChene, co-owners of the Ypsilanti Citizen, pose in front of their company's banner at Frenchie's during the Citizen's one-year anniversary party.

The Ypsilanti Citizen was launched in November 2008 to inform the Ypsilanti community about the news and events that were happening in their area.

Since our launch,...read more

Crossroads Summer Festival; rockin’ ladies night
By Dave Heikkinen and Frank Wright
Jun. 23, 2010   ·   4:37 p.m.

Barbara Payton and the Big Boss Trio rock Washington Street.

A special Ladies Night was held Friday at the 2010 Ypsilanti Crossroads Summer Festival in conjunction with the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.

Just...read more

Crossroads to hold Ladies Night for Relay for Life
By Dave Heikkinen and Frank Wright
Jun. 16, 2010   ·   9:13 a.m.

On June 11, the 2010 Ypsilanti Crossroads Summer Festival featured a rousing opening set from roots and blue grass band Dragon Wagon.

Dragon Wagon was joined on...read more

Electric rail pollution leads to dirty laundry
By Laura Bien
Jun. 15, 2010   ·   11:42 a.m.

From the approximate vantage point of the present-day Materials Unlimited, the interurban car barn and powerhouse on Michigan Avenue loomed large.

Maggie Smith was not looking forward to a forenoon of sewing pleats.

She put down her newest customer’s summer dress. Downstairs, she offered to get potatoes...read more

EMU students in wartime
By Laura Bien
Jun. 1, 2010   ·   10:32 a.m.

The 1942 Aurora yearbook, the 50th
anniversary edition, included images that contrasted modern and
old-time students.

Leroy Grindle was an Ypsilantian soldier who lost his life in WWII. He was a member of the Michigan Normal (EMU) class of ’41, and is memorialized with a black...read more

The retiree who sent a thief to the chair

The chase didn't last long.

Photo by Ypsilanti Archives

The chase didn't last long.
Dr. Kimberly A. Rice DDS

To the Archives

By Laura Bien
Jan. 19, 2010    ·    3:10 a.m.

65-year-old retired Ypsilanti car salesman Henry Sherman Platt parked his car at 114 Huron Street on the evening of Aug. 11, 1925.

He and his wife Anna emerged and walked towards the elegant 1890 Queen Anne-style home with its stone-based tower and wood-filigreed porch. The home had once belonged to Josiah Fish Sanders, a prominent local clothing merchant, and was now occupied by his widow Caroline Sanders, upon whom the Platts were calling.

The front door opened and the Platts went in. As the door closed behind them, Henry heard his car engine starting. He opened the door to see his car pulling away from the curb—driven by a stranger.

Henry ran outside. He saw his car picking up speed. He ran into Huron Street, and tried to flag down a passing coupe. The two men inside looked at him strangely, veered around him, and drove past, following the stolen car. Another car approached, and this time Henry stopped it.

“My car’s just been stolen—they’re headed up Huron!” He jumped in, and they sped off in pursuit.

As the trio gained speed, Henry saw his car in the distance. The speeding cars neared Prospect Street. The pursuit car sped up and suddenly angled in front of Henry’s stolen car, forcing it to the curb.

Henry and the thief tumbled out of their respective vehicles. The senior citizen ran after, tackled and restrained the robber. The Good Samaritan helpers, Detroiters William Dakins and Joe Kulich, called police.

Police found that the thief, 32-year-old C. B. Johnson, had two driver’s licenses and a large number of automobile keys on his person. He gave a Detroit address. The police notified their Detroit colleagues, in case Johnson had outstanding warrants there.

Ypsilanti undersheriff Dick Elliott, Chief of Police John Connors and Officer Dryer of the Detroit auto squad took Johnson to Detroit to be booked.

He was given the chance to make a phone call. Thinking he was alone, Johnson made a fatal mistake. He called the owner of a Detroit “chop shop” that disassembled and removed the identifying numbers from stolen cars.

The Detroit police overheard the call, including details that transformed Johnson’s arrest from an isolated incident to a major bust.

“After taking Johnson’s fingerprints yesterday the officers left him alone for a few minutes and he took advantage of the opportunity to notify Charles Bagwell, Springwells garage owner, of his arrest,” said the August 13 Daily Ypsilantian Press. “The officers heard him inquire if Richard Bland and Ralph Robinson had returned yet, and so learned that the two men had accompanied him to Ypsilanti Tuesday evening. Mr. Platt reported to police that two men in a coupe whose assistance he had tried to secure in following Johnson, had evaded him, and it developed the two were Bland and Robinson.”

The police sped off to Springwell’s garage and finding it closed, broke in.

“[T]hey found equipment for changing automobile numbers, and several cars with engine numbers already changed. They waited until Bagwell returned and took him into custody,” said the Press.

Grilling Johnson and Bagwell, police found that, as the Press noted, “Johnson, Bland, and Robinson all have legitimate jobs which they follow during the daytime, stealing automobiles at night.”

Police nabbed the 18-year-old Bland and the 19-year-old Robinson later that day as they left their factory jobs.

With the two new arrests, “the men confessed to stealing autos in Plymouth, Northville, Pontiac, Flint, Mt. Clemens and Detroit. The Platt car was the first one taken from Ypsilanti,” said the Press.

Thanks to Henry’s quick action, it would be their last.

There’s a hint that the thieves may have divulged additional information. The next day, Friday, Aug. 14, Elliott and Connors broke up “a second auto thief ring operating between Detroit and Chicago, with an Ann Arbor garage as a ‘go between’,” said the Press.

Its owner, Ann Arbor rural mail carrier Arthur Scofield, handled birthday cards, parcels and party invitations by day and stolen cars by night. In his shop, “officers found dies for changing motor numbers, and parts of several machines,” said the Press.

Police also tracked down Scofield’s supplier, a Max Goldberg who stole cars in Detroit and Chicago. Scofield changed the cars’ identifying numbers, reassembled some and whisked the altered cars out of town to sell in other cities. Scofield also had hid his own car in a Detroit garage owned by Goldberg, and then told his insurance company it had been stolen. Goldberg had served prison time in Joliet, Ill. and Columbus, Ohio, and was wanted in New York for killing a prison guard there during a jailbreak. Now the game was over, and all the men involved in the auto thefts came before the court.

Bland, Robinson and Johnson appeared before Ann Arbor Circuit Court Judge George Sample on Aug. 15. All three pleaded guilty.

Johnson received a sentence of two to 10 years in Jackson Prison. Bland and Robinson, as the instigators of the crime, each received longer sentences of three to 10 years, Bland in Ionia and Robinson in Jackson.

Bagwell was taken away to be tried in Detroit. Scofield was arraigned in Ann Arbor and pleaded guilty to mutilating an automobile. Scofield’s garage employee Earl Robinson was also arraigned, pleaded guilty, and was remanded to jail.

New York Sheriff Rogers arrived in Ann Arbor to take Goldberg into custody. He said Goldberg would be returned to New York – and electrocuted.

The criminals who stole, chopped and resold cars had met their match in the unassuming retired car salesman.


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