Claude Pierce is delighted to move in with his father, Jay Pierce, a struggling architect living in lower Manhattan, for the six months the divorce agreement of his parents specified. He’s come at a particularly bad time for his classmate, Gig Stevens, whose father is to be executed that night for murder, so he’s treated badly by Gig as well as Gig’s pal, Buck Murphy, and their gang. But he takes boxing lessons and holds his own in a fight with the older and heavier Buck, so he is grudgingly accepted into the gang. Their chief interest is to get a proper tombstone for Gig’s father, costing $80. When stealing and selling tires proves too slow, Claude suggests burglarizing some rich kid’s home for his toys, and pawning them. Claude leads them to a house at night, where rich looking toys are found, stolen and pawned. However, a suspicious policeman has them brought before a judge where Claude eventually confesses they were his toys; he knew his mother was away and the house was unoccupied. Claude goes free since he knew it wasn’t stealing, but Buck and Gig get probation, further alienating them from Claude. On the day they were supposed to report to the probation officer, Buck and Gig decide to run away. Despite a bad cold, Claude tries to convince them that running away will only hurt them in the long run. But they are adamant and the three hitch a ride with two men and an old lady who turn out to be gangsters on the run. Further, Buck lets on that Claude’s mother is a millionaire, hatching the gangsters’ plan to hold them for ransom. At a cafe owned by a Frenchman, Claude ostensibly orders a special sauce in French, but actually tells the owner to call the police. When they come, the bullets start flying.