Master Thief Hits L.A., February 1959


The Times spelled the name Attebery; The Mirror used Atterbery,

Max Hurlbut writes:

Your Evening Mirror News article on burglar GORDON E. ATTERBERY
pursued in 1959 brings back memories.  I was a young policeman
assigned to
Hollywood Division in 1960.  ATTERBERY was tearing us,
West Hollywood
Sheriffs, & Beverly Hills P.D. apart.  He would hit house-
leaving his loot piled near the street where he would pick it
up, before
sunup, in his stolen Chevy with cold plates.

(murdered in the "Onion Field" in March 1963)
& I worked 6X15.  [6
designates Hollywood Division & "X" is an "extra" car
deployed in
reporting district 615 (Los Feliz/Griffith Park District)].  We
believe we
once spotted ATTERBERY, but he outran us.  A Las Vegas park-
ing checker, who
had a hobby of checking his daily "hot sheet" against all
Chevrolets he
cited, finally nabbed him.

ATTERBERY, as a condition of sentencing,  told
all in a special report for
police officers on "How to Catch a 459."  (Old
penal code section for burglary). 
He wore suits and walked a dog so as to
say he was out strolling.  He studied
the neighborhood & could answer
questions for the car in the area.  If un-
covered, he would dash through the
worse brush & snags, as he knew
policemen (then) paid for their uniforms
and did not want to tear them up. 
He would hide in trees, as we seldom
looked up at night.  (Favorites were
dirty palm trees with skirts of dead
spiny fronds to crawl up & under).  Better
not reveal more, but an
excellent primer on burglary, even today. 

ATTERBERY was only 24, but an
intelligent, complex, man and master burglar. 
{P.S.—He knew big city
police officers would not (usually) shoot a fleeing burglar;
but was afraid
of running into an irate & armed home-owner who did not read his


GORDON, you are now 73.  If you are out there, let us
know how the rest of
your career panned out….

LAPD (Retired)
Bellingham, WA

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in Hollywood, LAPD, West Hollywood. Bookmark the permalink.

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