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VIDEO: Victoria gallery robbed of $40k worth of Inuit carvings in smash-and-grab

Three carvings were stolen in less than 2 minutes

A Victoria art dealer feels violated after a Boxing Day theft of more than $40,000 in carvings.

Michael Warren, director of Madrona Gallery in downtown Victoria, said a thief smashed through the gallery’s Trounce Alley glass door around 7:45 a.m. on Monday (Dec. 26) and quickly took three Inuit carvings valued at $1,500, $12,000, and $30,000 respectively.

“They were in and out in under two minutes,” said Warren of the single thief captured on the gallery’s security cameras. “They looked like they knew what they were doing, they were completely covered, seeing how they broke in they likely had experience doing this sort of thing, and the fact they just took those three items so quickly, really makes me think they knew what they were looking for.”

Warren said the thief came equipped with bags large enough to carry the carvings, two of which weigh between 20 and 30 pounds each.

Warren said VicPD responded quickly on Monday morning and collected forensic evidence from the scene. The gallery has since replaced the broken door and is back to business as usual as of Tuesday (Dec. 27) morning.

“It’s really frustrating because we are a small business just trying to do our best, we put a lot of effort into running this gallery,” he said. “To have that level of violation makes you feel quite crappy. It’s just a terrible feeling.”

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Warren said the gallery already had significant security measures in place, but will be further improving them in the aftermath of the break-in. Fortunately, the gallery has extensive documentation on the three carvings, which he said will make it very difficult for the items to be sold on the open market now they have been stolen.

Warren is also offering a $1,000 reward for each item returned to the gallery, with no questions asked. He is encouraging other businesses in the area to remain vigilant and to keep an eye out for anyone who may appear to be scoping out a location, and for the public to keep an eye out for the carvings.

The first carving depicts a large owl made of basalt and measures 10 inches by 10 inches by five inches. The second carving depicts a hooded person holding a stone and is made with a light green coloured stone and measures six and a half inches by nine and three quarter inches by 17 and three quarter inches.

The third carving is of a dancing bear made of dark stone and measures 15.5 inches by 11 inches by eight inches.

In an emailed statement to Black Press Media, VicPD confirmed they are investigating the break and enter, and that three sculptures valued at more than $40,000 were stolen.

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Justin Samanski-Langille

About the Author: Justin Samanski-Langille

I moved coast-to-coast to discover and share the stories of the West Shore, joining Black Press in 2021 after four years as a reporter in New Brunswick.
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