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Down the Tubes By Peter Ploddart.


In Melbourne in the 1960s, ferret racing-based crimes were considered especially heinous. The dedicated police who investigated these vicious felonies were members of an elite unit known as the Victoria Police Ferret Squad.

Detective Senior-Sergeant Peter Ploddart was one of their members.

These are his stories.

Chapter 1: The Great Bookie Robbery and Ferret Gunk Heist[edit]

How well I remember that terrible day.

But if you ask me, it was a stitch-up. And it was us who had to carry the shit can. I mean, sure, they got away with 72 gallons of ferret semen, which was part of our remit, but the bookies they knocked over were strictly taking wagers on the gee-gees, so that, technically, was the responsibility of the Gallopers (the Gallops, Trots and Greyhounds Squad).

At any rate, me and the rest of the blokes on the Ferrets (Ferret Squad) had been out on the turps the previous night because we'd had a big win on the ferrets (ferret races), so we were feeling rough as guts that morning.

I was the first joker in the squad room that day, and since I was feeling a bit crook in the guts and there was no other bastard there, I thought I may as well piss off down the massage parlour for a hair of the dog and a rub'n'tug, if you know what I mean.

At any rate, just as Charmaine had me on the vinegar strokes, if you catch my drift, there was this knock at the door. It was the bloody receptionist telling me the Chief Commissioner was on the blower.

So I hitched up me strides, told Charmaine we'd reconvene later, and went down to the foyer to see what the old bastard wanted.

"Ploddart here, sir," I said.

"Haven't had the radio on by any chance, have you, Ploddart?"

"As a matter of fact, sir, no, I haven't."

"Well, if you had've you might have heard that there's been an armed robbery at the Turf Club and the bastards have got away with 800 grand and a couple of 44-gallon drums of ferret semen. Why don't you get your rotten arse down there and take a look for yourself?"

Well, you could have knocked me down with a feather. First thing I did was call the Ferret Squad and and get young Jimmy Greaves to come pick me up in the Ferretmobile (Ferret Squad patrol car).

Luckily, young Greavesy had been down the fish'n'chip shop, so he'd got a couple of pieces of flake, a few potato cakes, half a dozen scallops and 20p worth of chips -- which was a helluva lot of chips in those days.

Chapter 2: The Scene of the Crime[edit]

When we lobbed at the Turf Club, the place was a dead-set donnybrook. Uniforms were crawling all over the place, grown bookies with their bags turned inside-out were weeping and chewing their bet pencils down to the stubs.

Inside, the place looked like a brothel had hit it. Nobody had bothered to preserve the crime scene at all. There was a trail of ferret semen leading out the back door, but the uniform coppers had been walking through it in their great size 12 clodhoppers and tracking it all over the place. The landlord's cat was even licking it up. Dirty little bastard.

First thing I did was whip out an evidence bag and a Paddle-Pop stick and scoop as much of the gunk as I could into the bag. Then I whacked the bag in the freezer to keep it nice and fresh. I thought that when I got home I might squirt a bit up Lady Penelope (Ploddart's favourite brood mare at the time) to see if it was any good.

Next, me and Greavesy poured ourselves a couple of beers and settled in to read the form guide and wait for the rest of the dozy bludgers on the squad to show up.