The long-established Tomahawk Restaurant in North Vancouver is known for its aboriginal art pieces, some of which suddenly have reappeared. ((CBC))

The owners of a North Vancouver restaurant got a pleasant shock this week when someone anonymously returned First Nations art objects stolen in a break-in 20 years ago.

Staff at the Tomahawk Restaurant called police Tuesday afternoon after the items mysteriously appeared on the restaurant's front desk.

"This individual returned six out of the 20 items that were stolen," said RCMP media relations officer Cpl. Marlene Morton.

The man dropped off a hide-covered drum, a throwing stick, a hand-carved lamp, a shaman idol, a framed print and an oil painting in a hand-carved frame, Morton said.

Surveillance cameras revealed images of a man — who was not recognized by restaurant staff — make two trips into the restaurant, placing items on the desk each time.

"Never in my wildest dreams did I think they would turn up like that," said Charles Chamberlain, the son of Chick Chamberlain, who opened the restaurant in 1926.

Cleansing ceremony

The family admired First Nations culture and art, and collected hundreds of pieces to decorate the walls, Chamberlain said.

After the theft, elders from the Squamish First Nation came down and held a cleansing ceremony.

"It was to calm the spirits down, in the restaurant, and to let them know those pieces that were gone would come back," said Chamberlain.

The individual who returned the goods is described as a First Nations male in his 30s, about five-foot-six, weighing roughly 160 pounds, with a medium build and long, wavy hair.

RCMP are requesting the public's help in identifying the man and ask that anyone with information call North Vancouver RCMP or call anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

With files from the CBC's Ben Hadaway