In the spring of 1932, well known Toowoomba dentist Mr T. A. Margetts returned from a day at the surgery to find his pet parrot in a distressed state. The bird had been in the house while a burglary was taking place and its squawks of alarm resulted in an attack by the intruders. They grabbed a basin of eggs and pelted the aviary. Mr Margetts found the poor parrot covered in yolk and looking more like an omelette than a bird.


The place had been ransacked. There was to be a very strange sequel to this event.


A few days later three young boys were bird-nesting in a spot known as M’Phie’s paddock on Toowoomba’s Drayton Road. Walter McCasker, Frank Lambert and Ray Wallen were all from the suburb of Newtown. The youngsters spotted a large Minties tin, lodged high in a tree at the entrance of what seemed to be a hollow branch. The lollies had long gone, but the tin turned out to be filled with all manner of trinkets, medals and expensive jewellery.

The proceeds of a burglary were hidden in  a Minties tin.

The boys contacted the police and investigations revealed the most incredible cache of loot further down the hollow. The bough was more than 2 feet in diameter and 7 feet long. Constable Wallace was grateful that the boys had acted so responsibly as he had been investigating a spate of recent robberies with little success.

There were unopened bottles of spirit, plus cigarettes, tobacco, lots more jewellery and stolen mailbags… one from the local post office. The working tools of the crooks were also there; skeleton keys, motor vehicle and house keys (178 keys in total), bolt cutters and field glasses. Even more sinister were hidden weapons, including two fully loaded, police style revolvers. A thousand cartridges, sticks of gelignite, fuses and caps were discovered in another hollow tree nearby.

Everything was put on display at Newtown police station, creating huge public interest. Much of the jewellery was identified as being stolen from the dentist Mr Margetts and Mr. H. Winton, a wealthy Queensland grazier and race horse owner. The liquor and cigarettes were from a burglary at the Toowoomba Golf Club.



Following on the discovery of loot in a tree in M’Phie’s paddock on Saturday last, Constables Wallace, Johansen and Kinbacher continued their search of the district, and today came upon an underground tank, on a property known as Old Westbrook Hall, beyond the cemetery. The tank was about 25ft deep, and 3ft to 4ft in diameter at the surface.

Constable Johansen was lowered down into the tank with the aid of a rope, and on reaching the bottom he came upon a suitcase filled with drapery and clothing; socks, trousers, and suits of clothes, believed to be the proceeds of a recent burglary.

When Constable Johansen had removed the suitcase he was surprised to see a brown snake, about 5ft. long, underneath. He sent the suitcase up on a rope, and attacked the snake, which he killed. It is understood that the hole was covered with another old tank, and it was only by accident that it was discovered. The locality was about a mile distant from the scene of last Saturday’s find. (Brisbane Courier, October 1 1932).

It seems no arrests were ever made in the case, the only loss for the thieves being their ill-gotten gains. Stolen property was returned, and the boys who found the hoard were warmly congratulated. The only real victims in the saga were the egg pelted parrot and the poor old snake. 😢

  1. I hope the boys got more than ‘warm congratulations’ as they deserved a proper reward! And why were the thieves never found? The cache should have been watched until the thieves returned to collect it. Tut tut, I hope Constable Wallace didn’t claim all the glory for himself.

    • Pauline

      I think the police were of the Mr Plod variety! 😎

    Thank you, Chris

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