Sneak thief Herb Williams steals an oil indicating device containing highly radioactive beryllium pellets and jettisons it in an unsuccessful attempt to avoid capture. A scavenger named Adams finds the device and sells it to a junkyard where Mel (a ham radio operator) buys it for parts. Dan Mathews and the device's handler, Mr. Hoyt, remain a frustrating few steps behind the device despite reluctant assistance from Williams and Adams. Dan asks the American Radio Relay League to warn area radio operators about the device on its evening broadcast. The League does so, but Mel's pregnant wife Ann opens the device and is exposed to the pellets. Dan, Mel, and Mr. Hoyt have only seconds to prevent a tragedy. Written by
The "American Radio Relay League" that was mentioned in the episode is a national association for amateur radio. It is still in existence today. See more »
The Highway Patrol is engaged in many ordinary activities. Apprehending criminals is not ordinary, and is occasionally given increased urgency by the nature of the crime involved. On the morning of October third, Herb Williams, a sneak thief, stole an expensive radioactive oil indicator. The Highway Patrol swung into action to save Williams and any innocent victims from the danger of exposure to the radioactive mechanism.
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I found this to be a very tense and even scary episode, perhaps because I grew up in the 1950s and everybody was fearful of atomic explosions. I still remember the civil defense shelters and the drills we had to go through, including crouching under one's desk at school as though that was any protection against a nuclear explosion. But to see the radioactive container pass from person to person, all the time hoping they wouldn't try to open it, made this a swift moving episode. The tracing of the container involved both luck and cop smarts. The ham operating business was interesting - it was a very popular hobby back then. I wonder if that is still so. Remember until next time: "It isn't what you drive but how you drive."
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