Mansfield resident Larry Schuck pens true crime book about notorious thief – Mansfield News Journal
Larry Schuck found himself with too much free time during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Mansfield resident had moved here in 2013. His 29-year career with the Norfolk Southern police necessitated work in several states, including New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Georgia.
As a railroad policeman, Schuck came across John Dalton a number of times.
Dalton was a career criminal who was tutored by older thieves on the art of stealing tires from boxcars on trains. He learned well, eventually becoming the mastermind behind thefts of tires and other valuables from warehouses, railroad shipping containers and boxcars.
During Dalton’s 40-plus years of crime, he spent time in three different federal prisons and many state institutions.
Schuck thought Dalton would be an intriguing person to profile. The result is “The Last of the Dalton Gang,” a 134-page paperback book.
“He was well known to all the police in Lorain County and Medina County,” Schuck said.
In fact, Schuck’s first encounter with Dalton happened when he worked for the Spencer Police Department on the border of Ashland and Medina counties in 1976.
Authorities received a tip that Dalton might be planning a heist in Spencer. The locals set up surveillance at a warehouse and arrested him.
During the downtime at the start of the pandemic, Dalton’s name came up in conversations with some of Schuck’s colleagues. He decided to look Dalton up and found the thief was out of prison and lived in Lorain.
Schuck approached Dalton with his book idea. Dalton agreed if he could get a percentage of the royalties.
In “The Last of the Dalton Gang,” Dalton recounts many of his crimes and includes several for which he was never charged.
Over the years of trying to build cases against Dalton, Schuck found it unique that he worked with Dalton to tell the story about his life and efforts trying not to get caught.
He assured Dalton he would not write about any cases that could lead to charges. Schuck said the statute of limitations had expired on a number of the cases.
“Dalton specialized in them (tire thefts) more than anybody else I’ve ever seen,” Schuck said. “Back then, they didn’t have any serial numbers.”
Dalton used to steal U-Haul trucks and recruited people to be in his “gang.”
“One of his good buddies is still in federal prison,” Schuck said. “He (Dalton) is going to send the book to him.”
In preparing for the book, Schuck sent a public-records request to the FBI for Dalton’s 4,000-page file. He was told it would take two years.
Schuck went ahead with the book anyway. Despite Dalton’s crimes, Schuck said he has some respect for him because neither he nor his cohorts ever used weapons or violence during the thefts.
“He was a simple thief,” Schuck said. “He knew if he carried a weapon, he’d get in more trouble.”
The author said Dalton never served more than three years at a time.
He doesn’t plan to return to prison. Dalton has been out since 2017. He told Schuck he has “retired” from criminal activity.
“He’s in his 60s,” Schuck said. “He said he wanted to spend time with his grandkids.”
Schuck agreed with his subject about spending time with grandchildren. He and wife Mary moved to Mansfield in 2013 to be closer to home.
A 1968 graduate of Black River High School, Schuck has more than 36 years of service in both the public and the private sectors. He was a certified security consultant and formed his own security consulting business in the Atlanta area prior to moving back to Ohio.
Schuck is an Army veteran and served in Vietnam on a reconnaissance team. It was a big change after growing up in tiny Spencer.
“You found out there was a big world out there,” Schuck said.
“The Last of the Dalton Gang” has a retail price of $13, and $8 as an e-book. The ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is 978-1-6495-7368-1.
It was published by Dorrance Publishing Co. Inc. of Pittsburgh. People can buy the book in stores or from the publisher’s online bookstore at https://bookstore.dorrancepublishing.com/the-last-of-the-dalton-gang-pb/.