The Axe Theft of 1953

9 June 1953 -- The Axe Is Missing

Custodian:California
Location:Men's Club Room Trophy Case, Stephans Union, Berkeley
Duration:5 months

While relatively little is known about the theft itself, the most interesting dimension of this theft is the unsuccessful investigation to locate the stolen Axe. The Axe was discovered to be missing from its case in the student union of the University of California. The case was broken, the Axe plaque thrown on the floor, but the Axe was nowhere to be found. The only clue left behind by the thief was a five dollar bill, presumably to cover the cost of the damage.

The University of California organized a special committee to locate the Axe. The committee employed tactics of informal questioning of Stanford fraternities, the fabrication of an Axe duplicate to confuse the thief, and even an offer to refund the thief's damage fee! None of the committee's plans worked, and California's Big Game Rally was Axe-less.

The Axe was returned on Big Game Day -- in time for Cal to take it home again after a 21-21 tie game. To this day, no one knows exactly where the Axe was for the five months of its absence.

Here are the details and accounts of the 1953 theft: