The Great Cable Car Robbery - a 1922 Newspaper Article
Collected by Joe Thompson

These articles, from The San Francisco Examiner, described a James Gang style holdup of a California Street Cable Railroad car at California and Jones Streets. Two officials of the California Street company handed over a bag containing $4,100.

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From the San Francisco Examiner / Wednesday, January 4, 1922. Page 1.

$4,100 TAKEN

Five Men, Using 'Pony Express'
Methods, Rob Officials and
Make Getaway With Auto

With all of the daring of "pony express" days, five bandits yesterday help up a crowded cable car on the crest of Nob Hill. The robbery yielded them $4,100 of California Street Cable Railway Company's money.

The gripman and conductor of the car were held under guns for a block, while two officials of the company, among the passengers on the car, were compelled to give up the cash they were taking to a downtown bank.

Two of the bandits boarded the car at California and Leavenworth streets. They help up the two carmen. A block distant, three of their companions leaped from a standing automobile awaiting the car and then grabbed the leather bag containing the loot.


The five with a shout put a revolver at the head of the automobile driver, then for the first time aroused to the fact that he had a crowd of robbers as his fares.

They ordered him to drive down the steep Jones street grade into Pine street, where one of the robbers left the machine. The others forced the driver to flee out into Golden Gate avenue, where they commanded him to drive away as fast as he could and say nothing.

The action of the drama was swift, sure and planned to the minute.

The officials robbed were William Roger, assistant cashier, 2144 Union Street, and George A. Hare, secretary. Thjey boarded the cable car at Larkin street only a few minutes before the robbery.

On the car were several other passengers, among them some woment who were silent, compulsory witnesses of the episode.

After the first two banditsw got aboard the car, one of them covered William McKnight, the gripman, shoving a revolver in his side, and commanded:

"Now stop at Jones street and keep your mouth shut."

The other thug did the same thing with Frank Nunes, the conductor.

At Jones street Hare and Boger, sitting on the outside of the car, with the cash bag between them were then attacked. Both had revolvers leveled at them as the bag was taken. Boger was also robbed of his own purse, containing $50. Then followed the flight.

Samuel Salter, driver of the automobile works for the Sequoia Garage, Taylor and Turk streets, where the chapter opened.

According to the report to the police by Salter, the kidnapped driver first encountered the party when he was sent to relieve John Matheson, 750 Ellis street, another auto driver who had been hired earlier in the day by two of the robbers. They went to the garage and said they wanted to go to Army and Folsom streets. At Steiner and Geary streets they picked up three more men. At Army street the car broke down and Matheson phoned to the garage for a two car. Salter went along in a five-passenger car to help out.

The quintet took the Salter car and he drove his passengers on their order to Taylor and California streets, then a block west to Jones street. He waited there for the men to return after they got out. While examining the automobile, Salter said, he was astonished to see the five running to it, one of them brandishing a revolver, compelling him to drive them.

From the San Francisco Examiner / Saturday, January 14, 1922. Page 1.

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Ex-Minister's Regard for Fair
Sex Kept Him From
California Street Cable Robbery

SAN JOSE, Jan. 13. -- Sentimental belief that "women are the nearest things to angels that we shall ever see here" last week prevented Rex Hascall, former Baptist preacher of Oregon from participating with his "underworld pals" in the holding up of a cable car in California street, San Francisco. Hascall glibly admits he is an arch-criminal with a philosophic bias.

A predominating respect for women and children born into his soul, Hascall says, by virtue of the love and purity of his own mother and a dead wife, coupled with an aversion to bloodshed, if not to grand larceny, caused him to leave the bandit gang that carried out the San Francisco holdup, in which $4,100 was secured.

Sheriff George W. Lyle, investigating the remarkable story of this curious prisoner, wrung from Hascall today the description, some names and places of abode of the men, who, the ex-preacher says, carried out the California-street robbery.


This information has been given the San Francisco police authorities for investigation and according to a report from there tonight has been partially confirmed.

"Rev." Hascall's story of how his boasted admiration for all womanhood led him to shun the holdup revealed today some of the philosopher-thief's submerged ideals, so pecuiarly warped by his criminal instincts.

Hascall's views on women were outlined to "The Examiner" in his cell today, the man's blue-gray eyes beaming their constant glow as his lips twitched into a deeply sympathetic smile.

"Women?" he said. "Yes, I have had a great deal to do with them in my lifetime. I have been amongst them long enough to know that I do not know them. They are the nearest to the angels of anything we ever will find in this world, and my respect for them is undying." He smiled over his sentimentality.

"Do not feel that the attraction womanhood holds for me is physical. I have lived my life clean in that respect, holding women always in deepest reverence. Woman is more delicate and more tender, living life truer to God, than does man. Then too, we know that woman passes further into that vale that is he shadow of death than does man, bearing without a protest the burden of pain and hurt bringing him into the world.


"Just such a woman was my mother, and just such a woman was my little wife whom I buried with our babe in Denver. My wife was more to me than I am to myself. That is a strange way of putting it, perhaps, but nevertheless true.

"These things have coupled together to burn into my heart an ever lasting honor for womanhood and that is why I left Miller and the other boys of the can that robbed the California street car in San Francisco. I knew that there would be women and children on that car and I refused to participate in crime that might lead to injury to them.

"In my life time I have found that women are unfathomable. Don't believe that you can fool them. Don't believe you can fool your wife about little things, for sooner or later she will find you out. I have learned that much from life. Woman is possessed of a God given sense of intuition that is her greatest power. If she be clean, wholesome and healthy a woman in invariably superior in soul to man."

Hascall, arrested on three burglary charges here, and who admits crimes the world over, reiterated today his "contentedness at being in jail.

From the San Francisco Examiner / Tuesday, January 24, 1922. Page 10.

4 Men Indicted Here
As Street Car Bandits

Indictments were voted last night by the grand jury against four men charged with having robbed officials of the California Street Cable Railway Company of $4,000 on a cable car at Jones and California streets two weeks ago. Those named were Frank E. Grider, in custody, having been arrested at Salt Lake City; Roy Hale, at large, and two "John Does."

From the San Francisco Examiner / Wednesday, March 8, 1922. Page 13.

Jury Disagrees in
Robber Suspect Case

Unable to reach an agreement after several hours' deliberation, the jury trying Frank Grider on a robbery charge in Superior Judge Louis H. Ward's court was discharged last night. Grider's new trial will be set later.

Grider was accused of being one of the four bandits who held up a California street cable car at Jones street on January 3 and robbed William Bayer and George A. Hail, paymasters for the cable car company, of $3,489. He was apprehended in Salt Lake City.

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Last updated 01-May-2022