Ed Tickel: a true blackbag veteran …

Steffen is having some sort of blog too. On the internal pages of www.ssdev.org he writes nice German articles that are worth the read.

And trough a TV item on discovery channel he found out what ‘blackbag’ truly means. I must admit, the TV item he found is pretty neat! It shows a gentleman by the name of Mr. Ed Tickel, an FBI legend when it comes to opening locks. And in the video he demonstrates his favorite opening technique: impressioning!

Ed Tickel

And for those of you who wonder how NDE (non destructive entry) operators spend time on a lock in a busy street: He answers this in an amazing story on how he made a key to a lock while he was hiding in a big refrigerator box. Thinking about it, this makes a lot of sense. The hole in the box should not even be bigger then a hand, and if you are afraid evil mobsters will shoot trough the box, you can even have it armour plated….

One other retired FBI agent was a so called ‘wire man’. He was responsible for planting the microphones and camera’s. A job that nowadays would include the installation of keyloggers and knowledge on how to back up other peoples hard drives…

For more information, just google for ‘Operation Strawman’. Unfortunately there is not much background info I could find about Mr. Ed Tickle. And that is too bad because I would not mind inviting him as a speaker for the Dutch Open lockpick championships on 23/24/25 November 2007….

The full video with the interview can be found here (68 MB .AVI)

17 Responses to “Ed Tickel: a true blackbag veteran …”

  1. The FBI agent in the video is H. Edward Tickel Jr. Although he was the FBI’s go-to guy during the 70s and 80s for blackbag ops, he was later caught using his skills to sell stolen jewelry, giving FBI radios to his friends and attempting to rob the FBI’s credit union.

    Here is a link to a Washington Post story detailing sentencing for 8 years:

    Or you can get more info in my blog entry:

  2. M. Cordell Hart says:

    Ed Tickle has quite another distinction to his credit: in the mid-1950’s, he brought the “Bop” to North Little Rock, Arkansas. Yes, when his family moved to the area, with their hugely splashy car, a Continental, Ed was an instant success with the girls. They considered him cute, and he taught everyone a simple dance step called the “Bop”. He also played sports, and thus gained approval of the guys, too. I lost track of Ed for many years. He went with the FBI and I went to the CIA. He got caught.

  3. M. Cordell Hart says:

    Ed Tickle has quite another distinction to his credit: in the mid-1950’s, he brought the “Bop” to North Little Rock, Arkansas. When his family moved to the area, with their very splashy car, a Continental, Ed was an instant hit with the girls. They found him cute, and, in short order, he had everyone dancing the “Bop”, a simple shuffle dance step. He played sports, too, and so gained approval of the guys. I lost track of Ed for many years when he went with the FBI and I went to the CIA. He got caught.

  4. Stacy Warren says:

    He was certainly a jack of all trades!! He owned a patent for a new type/style of lock (created in the 1970’s). He wasn’t just a special agent; he was a supervisor in the FBI. He spent time it the FBI labs determining how to subvert new security devices (safes, locks and security systems). He, along with a handler and bomb sniffing dog, were the first people to enter the Iranian embassy after the taking of U.S. hostages in 1979. He was a member of Richard Petty’s pit crew in the late 1970’s early 80’s, most prominently during Petty’s 1979 Daytona 500 win! If you watch any video’s of the end of that race, you can see Ed on the hood of Petty’s car (the guy with the really curly dark hair) as Richard drove the crew into Victory Lane. The radios mentioned earlier were used during some of the NASCAR races which Ed was a part of. The use of these radios helped usher in the now standard two-way communications between driver and crews during races and practice seen in NASCAR today. Ed was charged with “misappropriation of government property” for allowing the use of the radios. They were NOT stolen or given away, only used and returned thus the “misappropriation” charge. During the Air Florida Flight 90 crash into the 14th Street Bridge and the Potomac River, FBI agents rushed to the scene with a boat to aid in the rescue of passengers. Unable to get the engine to crank, they called on Ed who had it working quickly. Ed was always thinking outside the box, and working inside it on at least two occasions. The refrigerator box was used twice; he delivered himself to the front door of one establishment (Mob owned) in order to gain entry to the building and another time to keep guard dogs from getting to him while he picked the lock on a door of a home (again mob owned). There are some reports/views that Ed was unjustly targeted in an internal witch hunt because he had informed the, then head of the FBI of illegal wiretaps (that he had been involved in placing) and that he had been called (by phone) to investigate a robbery of the credit union. Fearing that Ed would go public with the information on the wiretaps he was framed to discredit him. Ed Tickel passed away on March 5, 2012 following a short battle with cancer in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

  5. jos says:

    I wish we could have met. Rest in Peace, Ed.

  6. Jimmie says:

    speech about Strawman operation in which Ed T was involved


  7. kerrye shea says:

    My deepest sympathy to his family. Hope his daughters will contact me.

  8. kim walker says:

    Is Stacy Warren (and others) aware that Tickel’s life story was being considered for a feature film by none other than Lowell Bergman and Michael Mann? I spoke with Ed not long before his death and am interested in following up the theory that he might’ve been framed.

  9. raimundo says:

    the H edward tickle story has some parallels to the Douglas Groat story that is in the oct 12 issue of smithsonian magazine
    this can also be found online from a link through http://www.schneier.com a week or more ago, you can look in oct 2012 archive on that site.
    I have to ask more from stacy warren about entering the US embassy in tehran after the hostage episode, I was under the impression that the place was never reopened by the US.

  10. Zachary Tickel says:

    My dad was a great FBI agent if not the best, and the greatest guy you could have ever met and had many stories that were unbelievable. He did more in his lifetime than most men could do in 10 lifetimes, but was also the best dad I could ever ask for. I hope to follow in his foot prints and be half the man he was. I\\\’m very fortunate to be his son and wish he were still around to teach me more and share more of his stories. Love ya dad.

  11. Stacy warren says:

    The anniversary of Ed’s passing is coming up and I still miss him very much…there have been so many times in the past year where I have wanted to call him up and ask him for advise, he had so many talents, but I really miss his big bear hugs!!
    To Raimundo: Ed was called in to gain access to locked rooms, safes, etc… inside the Iranian embassy in the US after the diplomats were removed. He did not go into the US Embassy in Iran, that would have been a suicide mission!!
    There has already been one TV movie based on some of his exploits (can’t remember the name of it). Ed and his family also discussed his life and interviewed with a 60 Minutes producer among others for a TV series and movies so they are interested in telling his story but they are very apprehensive since they were taken advantage of by the first group that basically stole his story from them and received ZERO compensation for his story. His exploits while incarcerated would be movie worthy (and very funny) as well!! I’m more than willing to discuss or answer any questions anyone has or get you in touch with the family to see if they are willing to speak with you. I don’t mind being a go between. Just email me (stacy@stacywarren.com) and I will pass your info along to the family.

  12. Zachary Tickel says:

    Today marks the 1 year since the death of my dad. I miss him very much and cannot go a minute without thinking about him. Since his passing we have heard many stories from close friends and family and love to hear them. Currently, my mom, sister and I are working together trying to get a TV show in honor of him, using true events and cases. It is coming along and hope it will be put together in the next year or so. We really want to make him proud. Also, I would like to thank my cousin Stacy Warren for all the stories, they really are great stories to hear especially cause i wasn’t around back then to know all the specifics that my dad may have left out or happened to forget. As for the movie stolen from my dad, it was Marked for Murder, which stacy had mentioned above. As for my dad, I miss him like crazy. He was always the happiest man no matter what the situation and the smartest guy i ever knew. He would try and teach me so much and I am taking those lessons trying to make myself as diverse as he was. He knew how to do anything. He loved restoring cars, building things, inventing anything that would be better than whats out there, and he never could leave anything alone, he always had to make it better. I am spoiled to have such an extraordinary man be the mentor of my life. He has taught me everything from working on cars to how to capture and treat animals. His love of wildlife and animals was always something that he never got old of, especially his large amounts of animals he always seemed to catch and bring home, whether it was a snake or a raccoon on the side of the road, he brought it home. But to be short, he was my dad and i am very proud to be his son. my email is ztickel@comcast.net if anyone would like to hear any stories, ask questions or share a story.

    • Don McGee says:

      Hello Zachary, I knew your dad when he was a student at Henderson State Teachers College in Arkadelphia Arkansas.
      My roommate, Raymond Shoptaw of Little Rock Central High School and I were friends and admirers of Ed. At the time cars were important to all of us and Ed had a nice but slow 1956 Bel Air/Powerglide. I have several tales about his attempts to make it faster. I have the story of the 4 speed tranny he got to replace the Powerglide tranny in the 56.
      My roomy and I felt like we were “black bag” types on a really low level. We always managed to get the early look at all our tests. Ed supplied us with an FBI lockpick set. To my knowledge he had not ever picked a lock at this time in his life.
      Your dad was a very interesting and different person. Interesting enough that even in this early period of his life, I developed some amateur insights into his personality and motivations.

      An admirer

      Don McGee, Florida

  13. W Lou Campbell says:

    I knew Ed along with Bob Wingfield from the Agency – Russ Waller from State Department Intelligence back in the late 1960’s. Ed was one of the finiest lock /safe men in the world. He could open anything or impression a lock from a key blank faster than any master locksmith I have ever met..and I have met a good deal of them. He could also dial any safe S&G ever manufactured much to the sagrin of several fellow intelligence types.

    He lived life to the fullest. I call guys like us…friendly sociopaths, adrenaline junkies – born without an off button. Unformtunately, we become the victims of our own genius and it sometimes has its way with us…but he was and is a good man…a loving father/husband and “pirate” of old. JSRP

  14. Christopher Licht says:

    I had the honor of having lunch with Ed Tickle several times. I worked for Russ Waller and Ellis White at the State Department as a Seabee in the mid 70’s. At the time all I knew about him was that he was a locksmith at the FBI. I was impressed just having lunch with FBI agents. After finding out his history I was really impressed that I got to meet him.

  15. Basil Shannon says:

    Ed and I attended Lockmasters in Florida in 1974 as part of a Government class which had mainly US Army/Navy/Air Force personnel. The two exceptions were Ed from the FBI and myself from the Hong Kong Police. We had three weeks of classes in safe lock servicing, opening and manipulation. Our instructors were Rex Parmelee, Harry Miller and Jim Taylor. Ed did very well and came second in class.
    After three weeks of hard work and play Ed invited me to join him for three nights at his home near Washington. He gave me the guided “inside” tour of FBI HQ and introduced me to some senior directors and had me shoot a Thompson sub-machine gun on the FBI range.
    I have only today learned of his passing and my sympathies to his family.

  16. I am the Lowell Bergman mentioned in these email exchanges. Just retired from UC Berkeley in part to concentrate on my own stories. I am currently gathering a few decades of material I have accumulated about Ed as part of my own memoir. But at the same time reviving the possibility of a motion picture. The Discovery/NYTimes video mentioned was done by me when Ed came to seminar at the Graduate School of Journalism. That video and more is in a documentary, “Someone’s Watching”. I would be interested in – and/or a researcher I am about to engage – would be interested in talking with anyone who knew him (Basil, Lou, Stacy…). Zach, I will be in touch with your mom soon once I get some other ducks lined up.

    Email me at lowell.bergman@gmail.com