Friday, June 19, 2015

Flash and grab at the Yellow Rolls Royce - A 1970s Fort Lauderdale story

By Jane Feehan

Long-time Fort Lauderdale residents may remember the robbery at the Yellow Rolls Royce Restaurant in 1976. It was bold, but not quite as big as it could have been. High-profile Miami News reporter Milt Sosin briefly covered the story as did The Associated Press, which sent it across the country. There was something about the place, its flashy patrons—and stylish thieves—that captured headlines. It was the stuff of TV and silver screen scripts.

Long gone, the upscale eatery was located on Northeast 20 Avenue, close to Sunrise Boulevard and the Middle River fork of New River. Between 30 and 40 patrons were enjoying a night out in late March, high season in South Florida, when  a man with a handgun came through the rear entrance to hold staff at bay. A few moments later, a well-dressed couple entered the front door, with the male partner brandishing a gun. After commanding attention and calm, he instructed his young female accomplice to begin passing a bag around. In went wallets and jewelry but not before many took off rings and other glitter to drop into coffee, food and mouths. Personal searches were not conducted, diminishing the thieves’ take.

The dynamic duo warned diners not to follow them; they took off with about $15,000 in cash and jewels, a substantial haul from such a small gathering. As soon as they left, rings and other baubles were spat out or removed from food.  (One may speculate about how much cash the robbers would have gotten away with six or seven years later, when cocaine cowboys were walking around with paper bags of the green stuff before laundering it at jewelry stores and through real estate transactions.)

According to owner Terrence Scott Moser, robbers missed more than they took. He described his customers as the “quiet elite of Fort Lauderdale,” among them women wearing “diamonds by the yard.” Many of them managed to hide the glitter simply by buttoning up their blouses.

Days after the heist, police were still seeking clues to the bold robbery…and the nation was reading about it. The story soon dropped off the radar, as did the Yellow Rolls Royce and Terrence Scott Moser. Any of you remember additional stories about it?

Miami News, March 29, 1976
Sarasota Herald-Tribune, March 31, 1976

 Tags: Film researcher, Fort Lauderdale in the 1970s, Fort Lauderdale history

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