Campbell River Crime Stoppers said this carving was stolen from a downtown business on Jan. 24. Photo from campbellriver.crimestoppersweb.com

First Nations carvings stolen during break-and-enter at downtown Campbell River office

Stolen artwork includes Bear Dancer carving by Island-based artist Michael Price

Police are looking for clues after someone allegedly smashed the glass door of a downtown office and made off with two Indigenous carvings earlier this month.

The incident took place at Chan Nowosad Boates, an accounting firm located at 980 Alder St. Staff were still working at around 11 or 11:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 14, when someone threw a rock through the glass door, according to Derek Lamb, a partner at the firm.

“They came out to see what it was, and they were quite frightened – the man was fairly large,” Lamb said. “He left as soon as he saw them but took two pieces of First Nations art that rests at the front of the office on the counter.”

An employee who caught a glimpse of the burglar in the darkened lobby described him only as tall, according to Lamb. The crime was apparently unplanned, he said, noting that the suspect left without his bicycle.

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Crime Stoppers posted a photo (right) of one of the carvings on its website on Jan. 28, along with an appeal for the public’s help. Lamb said the carving is by Quadra Island-based artist Michael Price.

A Google image search indicates that it’s called Bear Dancer. Lamb said the item was purchased for $2,500 a few years ago at an fundraising art auction at the Nuyumbalees Cultural Centre. The centre is located in Cape Mudge Village on Quadra Island.

Lamb said that he doesn’t have any photos of the other carving, but he described it as a small eagle mask about 12 inches in height. He said the artist is unknown and declined to speculate about its market value. The works were insured, and the firm is trying to determine whether the deductible is worth it, he said.

The incident has prompted the business to consider extra security measures, including exterior surveillance cameras, he said. He added that private security guards from Footprints Security patrol the building at night.

Cpl. Ron Vlooswyk, a spokesperson for the Campbell River RCMP, said in an email on Wedneday that an investigation is ongoing and that “evidence was found.”

A spokesperson at the RCMP national headquarters said that no specialized policing unit exists for art crime in Canada. The FBI has reportedly estimated that the worldwide trade in stolen artwork is worth $6-8 billion annually. Crime Stoppers said that police are asking for tipsters to come forward with information about the whereabouts of the artworks and the person responsible for the theft. Crime Stoppers can be contacted at 1-800-222-TIPS or online at http://campbellriver.crimestoppersweb.com.

 

Someone allegedly threw a rock through the glass doorway of Chan Nowosad Boates and stole two Indigenous carvings on the night of Jan. 14, according to Derek Lamb, a partner at the accounting firm. Photo courtesy Derek Lamb

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