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1960s / Pickles the Pooch Finds Stolen World Cup
The Jules Rimet Trophy--more commonly known as soccer's World Cup--was stolen on March 20, 1966. It was snatched from a glass display case at Methodist Central Hall in the Westminster section of London, England when the security guard assigned to keep an eye on it was temporarily absent from his post. England was going to host the quadrennial soccer tourney in three months--and the theft was a huge embarrassment for the country's Football Association. Shortly thereafter Joe Mears, the president of the F.A., received a parcel containing part of the World Cup. It was accompanied by a ransom note from a man calling himself Jackson. It demanded 15,000 British pounds in small denominations or else he would melt down the golden symbol of soccer supremacy. Mears contacted the police who arranged for a detective named Len Buggy to act on behalf of the ailing Mears who suffered from heart trouble. Buggy agreed to meet Jackson at London's Battersea Park at a specified time. Buggy brought a briefcase containing only about 500 pounds but Jackson did not bother to count it. Instead he got into Buggy's car and instructed him to drive aimlessly around London for 10 minutes. Jackson noticed a police van tailing the car. He panicked and attempted to escape on foot. He was quickly apprehended and identified as Edward Betchley, a 46-year-old army veteran. He claimed to be acting as a middle-man for a mysterious fellow he called The Pole. Betchley was the only man who was ever arrested in connection with the crime. He served two years in prison and died shortly thereafter of emphysema in 1969. The World Cup was missing for a week until David Corbett took Pickles--his mongrel dog--for a walk in the Norwich section of London on March 27. Pickles was drawn to a bundle tightly wrapped in newspaper lying near a parked car. Corbett removed the newspaper and there was the World Cup! Corbett immediately contacted police--who promptly interrogated him as a possible suspect. They finally let him go at 2:30 a.m. for lack of evidence. Pickles became a celebrity pooch. He was named Dog of the Year, was awarded a year's supply of dog food, appeared on several British TV shows, and had a feature role in a movie. Pickles was also invited to appear on TV programs in Chile, Yugoslavia and Brazil, but Corbett declined the offers as they would have required Pickles to go through strict quarantine measures and get several vaccinations to travel abroad. Corbett estimates that Pickles earned him 3000 pounds--money he put toward the purchase of a new house. When England won the World Cup on July 30, Pickles was invited to attend the team's private post-match victory party--a gathering so exclusive that even the players' wives were barred by the F.A.! Sadly Pickles accidentally suffocated in 1967 when his choke leash became entangled in a tree.