FBI recovers ′Wizard of Oz′ ruby-red slippers in undercover operation | News | DW | 05.09.2018
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FBI recovers 'Wizard of Oz' ruby-red slippers in undercover operation

For more than a decade, the iconic ruby-red slippers worn by Dorothy had been missing. But that changed when local police in Minnesota teamed up with the FBI to investigate an extortion scheme against the shoes' owners.

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation on Tuesday announced that after 13 years, authorities had recovered the iconic ruby-red slippers worn by Dorothy in the classic "The Wizard of Oz" film.

In 2005, the slippers were stolen from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, in a "smash-and-grab," with only one sequin left at the scene of the crime. Although local law enforcement followed dozens of leads over the years, they led nowhere.

But that changed last year when law enforcement followed up on an extortion scheme against Markel Corporation, the insurance company that owns the shoes.

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'Out of the shadows'

Grand Rapids Police Chief Scott Johnson said his department had reached out to the FBI to work together on an investigation that would eventually last a year. In July, the slippers were recovered in an undercover operation in Minnesota.

"We were confident this day would eventually come, and we are grateful to the FBI and all those who worked to bring this piece of cinematic treasure out of the shadows and into the light," Johnson said. "After all, 'there's no place like home.'"

But federal prosecutors said the story isn't over.

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Red slippers worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz

While the red slippers are valued at millions of dollars, some call them invaluable as an "enduring symbol of the power of belief"

'Not done'

"We're not done. We have a lot of work to do," said US Attorney Chris Myers, a chief federal prosecutor in the state of North Dakota. "There's information out there that could help this investigation move forward."

Authorities are hoping to capture everyone involved in the theft of the slippers and their concealment from law enforcement for more than a decade.

"Our hope today is that folks that are watching this, if you know something about the theft, something about where these slippers have been in the last 13 years, that you come forward and you share that with us," said FBI agent Jill Sanborn.

ls/sms (AFP, Reuters, AP)

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