British Columbia·Photos

Stolen gnome returned to B.C. woman after 8 months with photos of international adventure

Thoughtful thieves sent Leopold the gnome home with a hardcover book of his travels from Victoria, B.C., down to the Baja Peninsula of Mexico.

Thoughtful thieves publish hardcover book of Leopold the gnome's epic road trip

Bev York found her gnome at the end of her driveway with a book showing all the places 'Leopold' went during his eight-month hiatus. (Bev York)

A B.C. woman's stolen garden gnome has been returned to her after nearly eight months — along with a book documenting the statue's international adventure.

Bev York, who lives in Victoria's Highlands, says her gnome reappeared at the end of her driveway this week — accompanied by a hardcover book that tells the tale of an epic road trip filled with margaritas, sun, sand and surf.

"Leopold, the traveling gnome," as he had been named, coasted from Vancouver Island down to the Baja Peninsula of Mexico.

"It is sweet," laughed York. "Whoever did it, I think, has a great sense of whimsy and probably [are] very nice people." 

York said she couldn't help but laugh reading about her gnome's big adventure. (CBC)

The avid gardener says she noticed the gnome went missing early in January but wasn't particularly concerned because "things go missing all the time."

On Monday morning, she went outside to her yard and her gnome was back, next to a large, hardcover book placed inside a clear bag, carefully tied to her gate.

She said flipping through the book, she couldn't help but smile.

"Hi, my name is Leopold the travelling gnome," read the first page of the book. 

"One morning back on December '15, I saw a motorhome toddle along Finlayson Arm Road and I thought to myself, 'There's got to be more to life than standing knee-deep in rainwater, being peed on by neighbourhood dogs and staring at the same view every single day."

Leopold 'the travelling gnome' drank margaritas and cozied up to the warm sands of Mexico's beaches. (Bev York)
On his way back from 'a jaunt' in Mexico, Leopold the gnome 'couldn't resist' stopping at the Grand Canyon. (Bev York)

Looking at the photos, York believes her gnome visited the Grand Canyon, went down Route 66 in Williams, Ariz., and eventually landed on the beaches of Mexico. 

Along the way, he stopped at diners, took selfies with cacti and may have even downed a tequila shot or two.

York has "no idea" who was behind the stunt, especially since she says her house is in a somewhat remote area.

The only clues in the book point to a family that owns two dogs and have a toddler who napped with Leopold.

The idea of taking a stolen gnome on a trip and sending it back with photos to its owner has been an ongoing prank since the 1980s. The 2001 film Amelie also made reference to the practice.

Leopold the gnome was swaddled in towels after he got a bath while on the road. York says he came home cleaner than when he left. (Bev York)

In this case, York says she wants the anonymous pranksters to know she's grateful for the joke.

"They made a lot of people smile with it and it's a lot of hard work that's gone into it," she said referring to the "beautifully bound" book.

The thoughtful thieves left her some advice on the last page of the book, which she says she will happily oblige.

"Remember: adventure before dementia!"

York says if the people behind the gnome-napping ever want to go on another trip, they should take her instead because she'd even be willing to pay her own way.

Leopold is now back in her yard, awaiting his next adventure, which hopefully isn't just a visit by a neighbourhood dog.

After seeing all that Leopold got to do, his owner says the mystery family should take her instead the next time they go on an adventure. (Bev York)


Lien Yeung


Lien Yeung is a host and reporter with CBC Vancouver News. She has covered stories locally and nationally from Halifax to Victoria on television, radio and online. Find her on Instagram or Twitter @LienYeung or via email at