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In a Los Angeles suburb, teenager Jane Koberly inadvertently becomes involved in a robbery attempt while on a blind date with one of the would-be thieves. Arrested with belligerent accomplice Terry Marsh, Jane cannot name the boys involved in the crime and is sentenced to juvenile hall for one year. Terry, convicted for a second time, is sentenced to juvenile hall until her twenty-first birthday, then the penitentiary until she is twenty-five. During the transfer to the work school, Terry's boyfriend and head of their gang, Mike Denton, intercepts the police car in which the girls are riding, shoots the police driver and ties up the matron. Terrified, Jane pleads to be left behind, but Mike and Terry insist that she come with them. When Mike hears the report of the killing over the radio, he grows anxious and decides to hide out at a farmhouse. After dumping the car in a ravine, Mike forces his way into the home of elderly couple Tom and Sarah Grant. Both Mike and Terry threaten the Grants, claiming they will kill again if necessary. Sarah anxiously reveals that her son Ben will be coming home the next day to celebrate Thanksgiving. Mike is dismayed to learn that the Grants have a party telephone line and wonders how he can contact his accomplice Al to help them escape. He writes a hasty letter to Al and forces Tom to post it in the mailbox. After dinner, Jane confides in the Grants that she is not connected to the gang. When the television news reports the girls' escape and the murder of the policeman, Jane grows hysterical until Sarah comforts her. The following day, Mike holds Sarah at gunpoint when Ben arrives. Ben, a decorated war hero, angrily challenges Mike, but Tom and Sarah plead with him to do nothing. Later that evening, Jane is gratified when she hears on the news that her father believes in her innocence and has hired a new lawyer to reopen her case. At police headquarters, Mr. Koberly insists upon accompanying the investigators on the hunt for the teens, declaring that it was his lifelong indifference which brought about Jane's careless involvement with Mike and Terry. Back at the Grants's house, Terry comes on to Ben, angering Mike. When Sarah is abruptly stricken, Mike refuses to allow Tom to go for a doctor, but Jane helps Ben put Sarah to bed and sits with her. Furious at Mike's callousness, Ben considers attacking him, but Jane beseeches him not to endanger his life or his parents. Meanwhile, the police and Mr. Koberly discover Mike's car in the ravine and, identifying it as the get-away car, begin a search of all the nearby farms. When they arrive at the Grants's, Mike forces Ben into the cellar with Terry and holds Sarah and Jane in the bedroom, leaving Tom to get rid of the police and Mr. Koberly. Overhearing the police telephone a recommendation for bloodhounds, Mike grows agitated and insists on trying to telephone Al. Tom places the call, but there is no answer, which disturbs Mike. Upon finally reaching Al later, Mike has Tom use a series of cryptic phrases to convey his and Terry's location. That evening, neighbor Bill Salisbury stops by to ask Ben's help in fixing his rifle. Mike, Terry, Jane and Sarah hide in the bedroom as Tom and Ben desperately try to force Bill to leave. Noticing their unease as well as a trail of cigarette butts leading to Sarah's room, Bill bursts into the room and is promptly shot by Mike, who then dumps the body in the cellar. The next morning, Terry makes another pass at Ben at the barn, and he succeeds in getting her gun away, only to discover it is not loaded. On the road just outside of the Grants's, Al attempts to get through a police cordon by posing as a feed salesman, but, panicking under questioning, is killed in a shootout. Everyone at the Grants's farmhouse hears the gunfire, and Tom impulsively makes a break, but Mike shoots him, then forces the rest into Ben's car and flees down an unguarded back road. The police arrive at the Grants' and a wounded Tom describes Ben's car. Against Terry's advice, Mike drives into downtown Los Angeles, toward Griffith Park. A police prowl car chases them and, believing that he can hide in the crowds at the observatory, Mike drives there, only to realize with dismay that it is closed for the Thanksgiving holiday. Cornered, Mike and Terry abandon the car and Ben gives chase while Jane stays with Sarah. Terry is shot and Mike and Ben fight inside the observatory until the police arrive. Before dying, Terry confesses to Sarah that Jane was never involved with the gang and Mike breaks into tears when he finds Terry dead.