Treasures of the Valley » Mike Lawler

The Green Scarf Bandit – Kidnapped Twice in One Day

Mike Lawler is the former
president of the Historical Society
of the Crescenta Valley and loves local history. Reach him at

Dec. 7, 1951, a date that will live in infamy – in the crime annals of La Crescenta anyway. That was the date that the infamous “Green Scarf Bandit” kidnapped and robbed a La Crescenta store manager and his wife twice in eight hours.

It was after midnight at the home of Alfred and Irene Boegler on Los Olivos near Pennsylvania Avenue. Alfred Boegler was the manager of the Shopping Bag Market on Foothill (today’s former OSH Hardware). Asleep in a separate bedroom were the couple’s two young daughters, one 4 years old and one 18 months. The couple was awakened by the sound of their bedroom window being pried open and the sight of a man, his face covered by a green scarf, climbing in. He pulled out a snub-nosed pistol and told the couple this was a robbery. They were going with him to the store to open the safes.

The bandit told them to get dressed. He politely looked away as Irene changed from her nightgown. They told the bandit that their two kids were asleep in the next room. Shouldn’t they come too? No, the bandit told them. It’s cold outside, and it may be dangerous if there’s shooting. It was obvious the bandit wasn’t a complete monster.

They all went out to the Boegler’s car to drive the short three blocks to the store. The couple sat up front while the bandit sat in back, his gun trained on Irene. They parked at a back entrance, and Alfred went up front with his key. He entered the store, turned off the alarm and let his wife and the bandit in the back door. The bandit continued to be polite, even apologizing for the robbery. He told the couple his “boss was pretty tough” and he was afraid of what would happen if he didn’t pull off this job perfectly.

Alfred opened the safe in the manager’s office and pulled out $1500, mostly coins, in bags. The bandit said he knew there was more than one safe, so Alfred led him to another safe. It contained just a bag of pennies, which the bandit didn’t take, and a $50 bill, which the bandit pocketed.

They all got back into the car and drove around the corner. At the intersection of Altura and Pennsylvania, the bandit let the couple out, and continued out of sight in their car. The couple was relieved to be alive and walked back to their house in the dark. They got their kids and carried them up the hill to Alfred’s brother’s house on Brookhill, where they called the Montrose Sheriff’s Station.

After they had given their police statements it was 6 a.m. and they needed some things for their now sleeping kids. They borrowed Alfred’s brother’s car, and returned home to get some things. There in the kitchen of their house, they met the Green Scarf Bandit patiently waiting for them.

“You double-crossed me. My boss doesn’t like that. We missed one safe,” he quietly said in a polite tone. They all piled back into the brother’s car, and returned to the still-closed market. There Alfred located the third safe and emptied it of another $2,500. The bandit’s return trip had been worth it for him.

The gunman again drove them around the corner and let them off, only to drive away with the brother’s car. He had gotten away with over $4,000. The brother’s car was not recovered but Alfred Boegler’s car from the first kidnap/robbery was found parked among the cars in a used car lot a few blocks away.

The La Crescenta Shopping Bag robbery matched another robbery just a month earlier in Highland Park. In that robbery the bandit, again masked with a green scarf, kidnapped a store manager at his home and drove to the closed store. In that case, the Green Scarf Bandit netted only $1,500 from the store safe. It was obvious that there was a serial kidnapper/robber in the area, and that more stores would be hit.

Next week, the Green Scarf Bandit strikes again.