Everybody has heard the stories, but are they true or just fables made up around the campfires at rally gatherings. I have had some experiences and mates have had others time to air the linen cupboard. Ironically my father had been a Policeman the late thirties but had been out of the force some fifteen plus years by the time I was born, he always taught me to respect the law and as a child I imagined police as modern day old wild west sheriffs. There was a radio show "My friend the Policeman" for kids on 3KZ in the morning that a suitable constable was given a ten minute "slot" basically to always respect the law and be good to your parents and if you wrote into the station a certificate pledge was sent to you to sign, I was so impressed I did and have it laminated and on my work fridge to this day!
I never had contact with a policeman till I started work,then a 20 stone copper with a grey FB panel van that was the local sergeant at the Fairfield police station made a large impression on me his name was Jack Baker and the local youths all walked with a limp because Jack had given all the trouble makers a " foot up the arse" or a "cuff around the ears" his police hat was like a grape on a watermelon and his uniform was specially made and still to tight with size 16 shoes to set it off and at a height of 6'4" you needed him as your friend and not a enemy, his poor Holden seat had caved in years before so sitting on the seat frame he looked a normal size bloke till he got out of the car and whoa be it you if it was a reason that offended him. Fortunately I was never on the wrong side of Jack because I fixed the long suffering FB although he gave me a jaundiced eye when I bought a ex police Triumph Saint, and plenty of advice to not impersonate a policeman. Life with coppers changed after the Dunstall Triumph I bought next and I rode at breakneck speed in traffic caused lots of hassles and fines but I kept my licence surprisingly.
The motorcycle industry attracts all types the "riff-raff" also the lower class, undesirables, the upper and middle class both professional and tradies to the labourers of the world, and in my case also the nicest of all people of mankind as well, unfortunately usually the police only see one type the worst of all and we manage to get "lumped" into that category, such was the case when I was working at Victorian Motorcycle Wreckers and one such individual had just freshly stolen a BMW R60/3 and with much gusto cut the engine from the frame with a hacksaw as obviously it was cheaper to buy than a kit of metric tools, this genius even cut through the plug leads in his eagerness to sell it to us! The obligatory defaced engine number de rigour of this action was in place, the "customer" put a very attractive price on the emasculated bike and invited me to view it in the boot of his early Ford Falcon, immediately I realised it was "hot" and stalled the sale while I called the Collingwood Police station, the constable was most annoyed and asked me to "hold the individual" till they could get to me (less than 2 mins away) within the hour! This did require a few cups of coffee and the excuse that the boss Brian Cripps had the money in cash and was late getting to work eventually the police arrived and took this chap away then complained to me they were to busy with car thieves to worry about bike thieves! A couple of years later I heard the same complaint from the boys in blue on the same matter, l digress,later that week a CIB detective called in and apologised to me and said "remember the are two types of coppers them (uniform) and us" if you have a problem don't ring them.
Working a year later at the Triumph importer I decided to buy a crashed 1971 TR6 and fix it up, this machine was registered in NSW a mate of mine in Geelong had a T140 frame at a good price and a few front end parts with a couple of weekends work it was ready to re-register in Victoria. I rode the bike down to RTA offices in Carlton and after a inspection I was told the bike was stolen. Well that involved ringing the Stolen Car Squad in Russell st a very obliging detective told me they had no room to impound the Triumph and could I take it back to my work till arrangements could be made which would involve asking my mate where he got the frame. It turned out the frame came from a stolen T140 in WA and if the police contacted that owner with photos to prove it wasn't his whole bike I may be able to buy the frame again, only problem was the owner lived in QLD and pre-internet days this dragged on for weeks. My mate was an innocent "stoolie" and gave me my monies back, I patiently waited then went down the wreckers bought another frame spent the weekend changing it over and then took it down and registered it, I rang the detective and asked him if he was convinced it was only a stolen frame he replied yes so then I told him to pick up the frame, man he wasn't happy he told me I couldn't do that, as I said I have and it's registered now so I don't care. Two days later the frame was picked up and nothing more was heard from then on.
Phil Pilgrim 2015