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In central California, Kim Winters watches in dismay as her younger sister Jill, a high school senior, becomes more and more disaffected and rebellious. Kim tries to help her, but is busy working all day and taking care of the house at night, while their father drinks away her paycheck. Jill attempts to avoid her father, who berates her and compares her to her mother, who left the family years earlier. After a particularly nasty fight, Jill runs away to San Francisco. At a hotel there, she offers to houseclean in exchange for a room, not realizing that the hotel manager expects more personal attention. When he attacks her, she screams and is rescued by Mary, who lives in the room next door. Mary allows Jill to stay with her and at night teaches her how to be a B-girl, tricking drunk bar customers into parting with their cash. Jill is a quick study, and soon wants to move beyond Mary's small-time swindles. Meanwhile, Kim, frustrated with the police's lack of progress, tells her father she plans to set out in search of Jill. Dismayed that he will no longer be able to loaf all day, Pop accuses her of being like her mother. Finally angry with him, Kim rebukes him for having forced her to quit school and provide for the family. Pop then mentions her unwillingness to marry, and when Kim reminds him that his friend attacked her when she was only fifteen, he calls her a tramp, prompting her to leave him for good. At the same time, Jill hitchhikes south and is picked up by a truck driver named Jerry, whom she easily seduces. He secures her a job in Barstow at a bar run by his friend, where over the next few days she takes advantage of the male patrons. While tracking Jill to Barstow, Kim accepts a ride with a man who then drives her into the woods and attacks her. Kim is rescued by four hoboes, who soon assuage her fear with their kind treatment. After she has fallen asleep by their fire, they pool their meager resources to buy her a bus ticket to Barstow. There, Jill has identified drunken Fred Knox, who has just won $2,000 in Vegas, as her next victim. She asks her coworker Violet to cover for her, then leaves with Fred. When he has passed out, Jill steals his watch, cash and car, pawning the watch with a fence named Thompson, who advises her to go to Los Angeles to work with Sue Hawkins, a professional thief. Kim finally finds the bar where Jill works, and once there, Vi notes her exhaustion and offers to let Kim stay with her that night. At the bar the next day, Fred brings a policeman and announces that Jill has robbed him. After he leaves, Jackie, a young delinquent, enters with two friends, planning to rob two men at the bar. When the men draw knives, however, Kim helps Jackie escape into the back room. In gratitude, Jackie informs Kim about Thompson, and as Kim leaves to question the fence, she chances upon Jerry, who asks if he can help. Jerry confronts Thompson for Kim and, upon learning about Sue, drives Kim to Los Angeles. Along the way, Jerry tries to seduce Kim, but when she retracts in terror, he apologizes and then treats her gently. In Los Angeles, Jill has convinced Sue to include her in Sue's gang of thieves. Sue sends Jill to Ric, her second-in-command, who discourages Jill's romantic attentions. Sue and her team, Artie Sanders and Judy Tobin, arrive to formulate a plan to rob the post office of an upcoming diamond shipment. Artie crafts an alarm similar to the post office's in order to practice with it, but the group remains stymied by its extreme sensitivity until Jill deduces that fire extinguisher foam can disable the alarm without activating it. By the time the meeting ends, Kim has reached Los Angeles and awaits Jill outside. Jill happily invites her sister to stay with her, and Kim, afraid to lose her again, asks to be part of Sue's team. The group secures jobs at the post office to gain access to the vaults, and meticulously plans the robbery. On the day of the burglary, Jill darts into the back room to disable the alarm, while Ric and Artie enter and hold up the other employees. In the back room, however, Kim has restrained Jill, allowing the employees to set off the alarm, and the gang is arrested. At the trial, Kim learns that Jill's young age will allow her probation instead of jail time, and she will receive psychiatric treatment. Kim leaves the courtroom, pleased that Jill will be cared for, and happy to be joined by Jerry.