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Tag: ransom

Remembering Pickles, the dog who, 50 years ago, sniffed out the missing World Cup

pickles3

When soccer’s World Cup was stolen from a display case in London in 1966, the week that followed saw huge tabloid headlines, a ransom demand, threats to melt the trophy down and a botched undercover police operation to exchange a bag of fake money for the treasured hunk of gold.

It wasn’t until seven days after the theft that the trophy the best minds of Scotland Yard were unable to find was easily sniffed out by a re-homed, furniture-chewing mutt named Pickles.

England was hosting the World Cup that year, and ended up winning it, but if not for Pickles there might have been no trophy to hoist.

Pickles was a four-year-old border collie mix whose owner, Dave Corbett, had taken him in as a puppy when his brother could no longer put up with his habit of chewing up furniture.

The cup had been on display in central London, and supposedly was being heavily guarded when it was stolen in the months leading up to the tournament.

Police made the case a high priority, but were still stumbling by the time Pickles, out for a walk, sniffed out the Jules Rimet Trophy in a clump of shrubs. That was 50 years ago yesterday.

“I put the lead on Pickles and he went over to the neighbor’s car,” Corbett recalled in this recent interview with the BBC.

“Pickles drew my attention to a package, tightly bound in newspaper, lying by the front wheel. I picked it up and tore some paper and saw a woman holding a dish over her head, and disks with the words Germany, Uruguay, Brazil. I rushed inside to my wife. She was one of those anti-sport wives. But I said, ‘I’ve found the World Cup! I’ve found the World Cup!'”

Corbett duly rushed the cup to the police station, and immediately became a suspect.

Two days earlier, the police investigation had taken a turn for the worse, according to The Guardian.

A man calling himself Jackson had contacted league officials about how they might reclaim the trophy for £15,000.

An undercover officer was sent to meet Jackson and make the exchange, but Jackson became suspicious it was a set up and fled.

He was caught, but the trophy was not.

Jackson’s real name was Edward Betchley, a small-time thief, and he would only admit to being a middleman.

He refused to disclose the location of the trophy.

cupTwo days later Pickles found it.

Once police became assured Corbett had no part in the theft, he would get the reward money for the trophy, and Pickles became a celebrity. He starred in a feature film, appeared on numerous TV shows and was proclaimed Dog of the Year.

After England’s 4-2 victory over West Germany in the World Cup final, Corbett and Pickles were invited to a party celebrating the victory.

The World Cup trophy would be stolen again in 1983 in Brazil, and never recovered.

Pickles died the year after his big find. He saw a cat and took off, his leash trailing behind him. Somehow it got tangled on a tree limb and the dog choked to death.

Corbett buried him in the garden behind his house in Surrey — the house that, thanks to Pickles, he was able to buy with the reward money.

Bella’s back home, woman charged with theft

bella2Bella, the Maltese mix who mysteriously disappeared two weeks ago from a home in Durham, N.C., has been returned to her family — and in an equally mysterious manner.

Bella wandered away from home on March 11, and, minutes later, a neighbor saw the driver of a car stop and pick her up at an intersection.

A day later Scott and Kerry Holmes received a phone call from a person claiming to have found their dog. But when they didn’t specify a reward amount, the caller hung up without supplying any additional information.

The family contacted police, and began putting up “lost dog” flyers.

Near the end of  last week, a third party contacted the family in an attempt to arrange the return of Bella. The family later met her at a nearby church and picked the dog up.

But neither the Holmes nor police, who have made an arrest in the case, are saying much more than that.

Scott Holmes, an attorney, said Bella was safely returned home Thursday  night. “Our family is so happy she is home. We are celebrating her return. She has slept a lot and seems to be perking up today,” he said.

He declined to offer any specifics about the dog’s return, but did say that his family is collecting reward money for a single mother in Chapel Hill who provided information that led to Bella’s return.

bynumMeanwhile,  police arrested Amanda Shanese Bynum, 28, of Carrboro, and charged her with extortion, larceny of a dog and felony conspiracy, according to the Durham Herald-Sun. According to police, Bynum threatened not to return the dog unless she was paid $600.

According to WTVD, Bella traveled at least as far as Charlotte during the time she was missing. A photograph of her at a Charlotte pet supply store, wearing some  new dog clothes, appeared on Bynum’s social media page, the Holmes family said.

Holmes said that after being returned Bella was lethargic over the weekend, but that she is bouncing back. He said she appeared to be in good shape physically.

“My wife and Bella are catching up on their sleep and are really, really glad to be reunited,” Holmes said. “They’re very close, and they’re doing really well. There’s been a lot of joy in our house since we got Bella home.”

Is missing Maltese being held for ransom?

bella2When a woman stopped her car a week ago to pick up a Maltese mix who’d wandered away from her family’s yard and into an intersection, it appeared to be the act of a good Samaritan.

Then the family got a phone call that indicated otherwise.

The caller, who claimed to have picked up their lost dog at a Durham, N.C., intersection, asked if there was a reward, and hung up when the answer didn’t please her.

The phone call was made six days ago, and the woman hasn’t called back since, according to the owners of Bella.

“She said she had the dog and asked about money and if we had a reward,” recalled Caroline Wilgen. “I said yes, but we hadn’t decided how much and she hung up.”

Bella, a white Maltese-poodle mix, wandered off last Wednesday as her owner unloaded groceries. She made it to the intersection of Cornwallis and Pickett Road.

“Several cars stopped when she tried to cross the road and the person who was closest to the dog scooped it up and then tried to put it in her car,” Wilgen told WTVD.

The next day Bella’s family received the phone call from a woman who said she had found the owner’s contact information on the dog’s collar.

“We received a call Thursday, around 8:00 pm, from the young woman who picked Bella up,” Wilgen’s husband wrote on his blog. “She said that Bella got into her car voluntarily. She sounded a little worried she may be in trouble. … We have hoped she would call back, but so far, nothing.

“We really hope she calls. We are not trying to get her in trouble, we just want Bella home. Maybe a neighbor or friend will recognize Bella and encourage her to do the right thing.”

Wilgen adopted Bella two years ago,  driving seven hours to pick the dog up from a shelter in Tennessee, where she’d been dropped off with matted fur and rotting teeth.

Now Bella needs to be rescued again.

“She’s already been through a lot so if we could bring her home, that’d be great,” Wilgen said.

Sting leads to arrest in Maryland dognapping

WalkerNajie_20100217162812_320_240A Valentine’s Day sting operation by Montgomery County Police led to the arrest of a man they say stole two dogs from a Silver Spring woman, then demanded she pay a ransom.

Police arrested Najie S. Walker, 21, at a Friendly’s Restaurant, where he was found hiding in a bathroom, Gazette.net reported.

Gloria Chicas, of the 12000 block of Bronzegate Place in Silver Spring, said two of her four dogs — Scooby, a 2-year-old golden retriever, and Scrappy, a 13-month-old French poodle — disappeared from her back yard Sunday morning.

After that she received a series of phone calls from a man demanding hundreds of dollars to return the dogs.

Chicas agreed to pay, but she said noone showed up at the designated meeting spot. Later, he called later to say that he wanted more money for the dogs. That’s when Chicas called the police. When officers responded to the call, they found a dead dog that had been hit by a car near her house. The dog matched the description of Scooby, and Chicas was brought out to identify the body, officers said.

After sconfirming the dead dog was Scooby, police arranged the sting, aimed at getting Scrappy back and catching the dognapper. Several phone conversations took place between  Officer M. Rodriguez, an undercover officer posing as Chicas’ nephew and the caller, who was told Chicas would meet him and swap the remaining dog for $300.

When Rodriguez’s partner pulled up in a marked police car, Walker fled to the Friendly’s restaurant and was found sitting in the stall of the men’s bathroom, Rodriguez said. In the nearby McDonald’s parking lot, police said they found his accomplice in a car with Scrappy.

Walker was charged with theft under $1,000 and is being held on a $1,500 bond. The State’s Attorney’s Office is working with the Animal Services Division to further charge Walker and the woman for extortion.

(Photo: Montgomery County Police)

Sweet: Sugar is found, mostly unharmed

Sugar, the New York City dog whose owners believed she was being held for ransom, has been found — tied to a bush in Prospect Park, a block from her family’s home.

Drucie Belman said she received a call Tuesday morning from a man who said Sugar was tied to a bush in the park.

The family thought it might be a hoax, but when they ran down the street to check, they found Sugar.

“We could see her bat ears from a block away and all four of us started running and just fell upon her,” Drucie Belman told ABC Eyewitness News.

Sugar had been bitten by the caller’s dog, but, after a visit to her vet, she is reportedly back home and doing fine.

After Sugar ran off during a trip to the park last week, the family received a call from a man who demanded cash for the dog. Belman believes the man called back a second time and said “Good luck finding your dog.”

She never heard from him again. It’s not known how Sugar ended up tied to a bush.

Is New York dog being held for ransom?

 

Sugar has been missing more than five days now, and it’s looking more like her Brooklyn family’s initial suspicions are correct — that the French bulldog, basset hound mix is being held for ransom.

Drucie Belman’s dog ran off into the snow in Prospect Park Wednesday. About five hours later, a stranger called the number listed on the dog’s collar, and seemed to be demanding payment.

When the stranger asked how much she would give him for the dog, Belman offered $50. The caller hung up, and his callback number was blocked. Another call came yesterday morning. “Good luck with your dog,” was all they said.

“It looks like someone has Sugar and they’re just trying to get money from us,” said Albert Belman.

The family rescued Sugar from a shelter in Hong Kong before moving to Brooklyn, and she had never seen snow before. When a snow day off from school was declared Wednesday, Belman and her two sons — 10-year-old Henry and 7-year-old Leo — took Sugar to the park.

The boys say the dog was so excited by the sight of snow that she pulled free and took off. The Belmans gace chase, then followed her tracks in the snow, but couldn’t find her.

Sugar was wearing tags and has a microchip.

Woman pays dearly for return of her Chorkie

A California woman paid $10,000 to get her dog Lexi back after the Chihuahua-Yorkie mix was taken from her Cadillac Escalade while it was parked outside a restaurant.

The Contra Costa Times termed it a “reward,” but it sounds more like a ransom.

On  Friday night, Debbie Brown and her boyfriend left a restaurant in Concord and found a window of their vehicle had been smashed. Lexi, a 2-year-old “Chorkie” was gone.

Brown posted fliers promising a $10,000 reward, no questions asked, for Lexi’s safe return, which led to a flood of callers — none of whom had the dog.

She called a psychic for help, and a pet detective, who told her that chorkies are in demand and that dognappers target them for breeding purposes.

Over the weekend, Brown received photos of Lexi  via e-mail, and made arrangments to pick her up Monday morning in Alameda, where the cash and the dog were exchanged.

Elena Bicker, executive director of the Walnut Creek-based Animal Rescue Foundation, said the case shows the importance of never leaving pets unattended in public areas, especially small breeds that have been targeted by dognappers.

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” Bicker said. “And this certainly was a pound of cure.”

It’s not clear if Brown ever reported the theft of her dog to police, or how long she had left her beloved dog alone in the vehicle.

“She’s my life, she’s our baby,” Brown said. “I used to laugh at people like me and say ‘It’s just a dog.’ But she is a member of the family.”