CHICAGO – They are the world’s most recognizable shoes, but have somehow evaded detection for 13 years, since being stolen from a Minnesota museum.
But on Tuesday, the ruby-red slippers worn by Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz” came home again.
U.S. authorities announced they have recovered the famous sequined shoes — one of four pairs worn by Judy Garland in the 1939 American classic film.
The shoes were snatched in the dead of night in 2005 from a shattered glass case at the Judy Garland Museum in the late actress’s birthplace of Grand Rapids, Minnesota.
A $1 million reward had been offered for their return. But the culprit and the fate of the shoes remained a mystery.
Authorities shed little light on what happened to them at a televised news conference Tuesday, announcing only that they had recovered the famous pair.
They unveiled the shoes — which appeared to be in good condition — in a glass case.
“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.
The shoes are thought to be worth several million dollars, but were insured in 2005 for $1 million.
Over the years, the Grand Rapids police department received numerous tips of the shoes’ whereabouts, police chief Scott Johnson said.
“Our police department followed up on each and every lead that we received over the years,” Johnson said, adding that it didn’t help that countless replicas were in circulation.
“Several months ago, our police department received some information that appeared to have more credibility. This investigation took us outside the state of Minnesota.”
Authorities said the expanded investigation led to a number of new interviews and searches, and ultimately the shoes’ recovery.
“We’re not done. We have a lot of work to do,” said North Dakota-based U.S. Attorney Chris Myers.