British Columbia

Precious stolen cedar carving from UVic 'tossed' back undamaged, police say

A valuable First Nations art work stolen from the University of Victoria has been recovered after someone "tossed" the valuable carving — wrapped in blankets — into the doorway of a downtown Victoria store, police say.

A person dressed in black tossed the blanket-wrapped treasure into the doorway of a downtown Victoria store

'Sul-Sultan' by Tsartlip Coast Salish artist Charles W. Elliott was stolen, but has now returned by an anonymous person dressed in black. (Saanich Police)

A valuable First Nations art work stolen from the University of Victoria has been recovered after someone "tossed" the valuable carving — wrapped in blankets —  into the doorway of a downtown Victoria store, police say.

Friday night police got a call about stolen property recovered in the 1300-block of Government Street.

"An unknown person, believed to be a man, dressed all in black approached the store and tossed a large object, wrapped in blankets, at the door. The store employee retrieved the item and discovered that it was the stolen carving from the University of Victoria," said a release from Saanich police.

The cedar carving, by Tsartlip Coast Salish artist Charles W. Elliott, was discovered missing June 13 after a break-in at the Fraser building on the UVic campus. A vending machine and several lockers were pried open.

Charles Elliott is a master carver of the Coast Salish Art tradition who won the order of B.C. in 2005. (Order of B.C.)

"The value of the art is estimated at around $10,000," acting Sgt. Jereme Leslie of Saanich Police said at the time.

The piece was commissioned by the Faculty of Law and was created in 1995-96 and was proudly displayed by the university for 20 years.

The work is carved in cedar with inlaid abalone and depicts a central human figure flanked by two wolf figures and a frog.

Police were watching to see if the piece showed up for sale online, but it ended up tossed at a doorway instead.

"It's not known at this time if the piece has suffered any damage but it appears to be in good condition. The art piece is now with the Oak Bay Police and in the process of being returned to the University of Victoria," said a Saanich police media release today.