In 1934, various news reports across Australia alluded to a spate of ‘ransoms for cars’ in Melbourne. Apparently a car would be stolen, the owner would be contacted and informed that they could get their car back for a price.
Various articles covererd the topic across Australia that year.
RANSOMS FOR CARS
PAYING RANSOM FOR STOLEN MOTOR CARS
CARS RANSOMED Demands Of Melbourne Thieves
Art Of The Kidnapper
Looking further through the various news articles from this period , it appears that there was only one reported instance of the ransom tactic.
“A week ago today, a motor car was stolen from William street, Melbourne. Four days later, the owner was informed by telephone at his office that if he went unaccompanied to a lonely spot in Royal Park, having first announced by advertisement in a newspaper his acceptance of the conditions of secrecy insisted on by the thieves, his car would be restored to him in return for the payment of fifty pounds” (Chronicle, Adelaide, 1 Feb 1934, ‘Art Of The Kidnapper’)
And so, some more general reports give the impression that this was a crimewave of sorts. However the Williams Street theft is the only one cited. The owner, at great cost, got his car back but the police never caught the people behind it.
The Doomed Bird of Providence’s song Ransoms for Cars, maybe embraces the idea that it was an unparelled attack on the drivers of Melbourne in the mid-1930s. The video for the song with it’s unscrupulous kangaroos, bewildered koalas and hard-nosed kookaburra reporters is maybe a bit more dramatic than the reality.
It was a pretty well executed rort though.