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Police palm antler bandit

Posted: Wednesday, May 04, 2005

 

  Soldotna Police Sgt. Tod McGillivray inventories antlers recovered in a residential burglary case. An estimated $60,000 to $70,000 in moose, caribou and elk antlers were reported stolen. One-fourth had been recovered by Tuesday afternoon. Photo by Phil Hermanek

Soldotna Police Sgt. Tod McGillivray inventories antlers recovered in a residential burglary case. An estimated $60,000 to $70,000 in moose, caribou and elk antlers were reported stolen. One-fourth had been recovered by Tuesday afternoon.

Photo by Phil Hermanek

Soldotna police arrested a man Tuesday afternoon in connection with the theft of nearly $70,000 in moose, caribou and elk antlers stolen from a residence off Brooks Avenue.

The man's name was being withheld pending charges being filed with the Kenai District Attorney.

According to police, the antlers were being stored in a 40-foot Conex container at the residence while the owner was in Cordova working on his commercial fishing boat.

Sometime during the past four months, the suspect allegedly has been hauling away truckloads of the antlers and selling them to area carvers and gift shops.

A friend of the owner noticed the door to the Conex container open on Sunday and saw that much of its contents were gone.

He contacted the owner in Cordova, who took the ferry home Monday and contacted police.

Soldotna Police Sgt. Tod McGillivray questioned neighbors who reported seeing the suspect taking the antlers in as many as four trips in one day, but did not put two and two together until police began asking questions.

McGillivray said the suspect and the owner had been friends three or four years ago.

The 45-year-old owner had been collecting the antlers, some found as seasonal dropped specimens and some harvested through hunting, in hopes of carving them as a retirement vocation in years to come, according to McGillivray.

Through interviews with the suspect, McGillivray has been able to recover about one-fourth of the antlers as of Tuesday afternoon and expects to recover more, he said. The total value of the antlers was estimated at between $60,000 and $70,000.

The owner's house also had been burglarized, according to McGillivray, and a TV, stereo, a rifle and a pistol were reported missing.

McGillivray said he expected felony criminal charges to be filed late Tuesday, and he took the suspect to Wildwood Pretrial Facility pending arraignment.



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