Crime Tours & Museum: Now Open in Downtown Hollywood
Yetcel Jimenez and her father, Chris Mancini. They have opened Crime Tours and Crime Gallery in Downtown Hollywood. They are standing at the entrance to the Speakeasy. If you go you can learn about all about the history of crime in South Florida. Mancini a past chief of the U.S. Attorney's Office, Crime Division, Southern District. He offers and engaging tour and an interesting perspective on crime in South Florida. PHOTO: DAVID VOLZ

Crime Tours & Museum, an educational and entertaining attraction that provides a fascinating look into South Florida’s colorful – and criminal – past, has relocated to Downtown Hollywood.

Visitors to the 2,000-square-foot museum at 115 S. 21st Ave., which celebrated its grand opening Dec. 21, can peruse floor-to-ceiling displays and exhibits including a recreation of the 1929 murder of mobster Thomas “Fatty” Walsh at Coral Gables’ Biltmore Hotel, take a photo behind bars in a black-and-white striped inmate uniform and sit on a replica of “Old Sparky.”

Crime Tours & Museum: Now Open in Downtown Hollywood
A replica of old sparky, the Florida electric chair at the Crime Tours and Crime Gallery. This organization offers a bus tour and a gallery tour show a whole of crime from hundreds of years in the past and some funny crimes and some very serious and disturbing crimes. PHOTO: DAVID VOLZ

Three 60- to 75-minute guided tours on video-equipped, climate-controlled buses are also offered for those who want to delve into Crime History, Black History or Florida History.
Crime Tours & Museum first opened three years ago in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. The expanding museum collection necessitated a temporary move to a warehouse in Downtown Fort Lauderdale until a permanent home was found in Hollywood’s historic downtown arts, music and entertainment district.

Founder Chris Mancini estimates that museum memorabilia now exceed 1,000 pieces, including old photos and famous mug shots, original newspapers, devices such as lie detectors and other artifacts.

Crime Tours & Museum: Now Open in Downtown Hollywood
The Crime Tours and Crime Gallery in downtown Hollywood. PHOTO: DAVID VOLZ

A crime history buff and attorney who hails from Upstate New York, Mancini was “introduced to the dark side of South Florida” 40 years ago as a new hire in the U.S. Attorney’s Office dealing with increased crime generated by the Mariel Boatlift.

Florida’s notorious history begins in 1539 with the first mass slaughter of Native Americans in North America, by the Spanish, and encompasses pre-Civil War slavery, Prohibition, illegal gambling, drug smuggling and modern financial crimes such as Ponzi schemes.

“You can’t separate history from crime or crime from history,” Mancini said. “South Florida has always profited from crime.”

Some South Florida crimes have been re-enacted as a series of shorts airing at the end of “Death in Paradise” on WLRN Public Television. “The “Case of The Clinking Brassieres” short was recently nominated for an Emmy. It tells the tale of counting room employees at Southern Bell Telephone Company in Miami in the 1950s who stole $100,000 in quarters stashed in their bras.

Crime Tours & Museum: Now Open in Downtown Hollywood
Old Communication equipment at the Crime Tours and Crime Gallery in Hollywood.  You can learn all about the history of crime in Southern Florida. Some is interesting. Some is funny and some is very disturbing. PHOTO BY DAVID VOLZ

The Crime Museum is overseen by Crime History Inc., a nonprofit charitable organization that welcomes donations of items of historical significance and will be partnering with the Hollywood Historical Society on panel discussions and walking tours. Ongoing museum events starting in January are Troubled Tuesdays, featuring exhibit discussions and guest speakers, and Felony Flick Fridays. Tickets are $20 per event and include refreshments.

Crime Tours & Museum: Now Open in Downtown Hollywood
Gambling has always been a temptation in Florida and elsewhere. Pictured here are gambling items from the old days of Florida. They are on display on the Crime Tours and Crime Gallery in Hollywood. PHOTO: DAVID VOLZ

Mancini signed a long-term lease on the Downtown Hollywood site because of the business-friendly attitude, downtown improvements and the city’s “commitment to cultural growth.”
“Hollywood welcomed us with open arms,” Mancini said. “I think Hollywood’s the next big thing on the map. We’re here to stay.”

Crime Museum hours are 11 am to 6 pm Monday – Thursday, 11 am to 7 pm Friday, and 10 am to 5 pm Saturday. Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for ages 3-17 and $15 for a 30-minute guided tour. A guided bus tour is $25, or $35 for a combination bus tour and guided museum tour.

Crime Tours & Museum: Now Open in Downtown Hollywood
Chris Mancini and his daughter Yetcel Jimenez at the Crime Tours and Crime Gallery. PHOTO: DAVID VOLZ

For more information, call 954-300-1063 or visit www.CrimeToursMuseum.com.  
Downtown Hollywood offers on-street metered parking for $1.50 per hour, as well as municipal garage parking for $1 per hour. Municipal garage locations are 251 S. 20th Ave. (between Harrison and Van Buren streets) and 251 N. 19th Ave. (between Tyler and Polk streets).

For more information about redevelopment projects, businesses and events in Hollywood’s Downtown and Beach Districts, call the Hollywood Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) at 954-924-2980 or visit www.hollywoodcra.org.

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