Community helps return stolen tiger to Nanaimo carver

Nanaimo chainsaw carver Dan Richey roared with delight when he was reunited with his stolen wooden carving of a sabre-toothed tiger on Sunday night.

“I have it in my possession!” said Richey, 58, from his home. “It’s awesome, it’s like a Christmas present.”

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The carving — about 400 pounds and one metre high and wide — was taken from Walker’s Saw Shop on Shenton Road in Nanaimo, where it was on sale for $5,000.

Video surveillance footage shows two men hauling off what appears to be the redwood sculpture out from behind a shop and through a fence about 6 a.m. Saturday. The video also shows a two-tone truck being driven away from the scene.

Richey’s wife, Veronica Marie, jumped into action and listed the stolen carving on a private Facebook group called Thieving Nanaimo, which has more than 19,000 members. “Within 10 minutes” the couple started to receive messages from people who said they knew exactly where the vehicle was, he said.

“The truck mirrors on it are distinctively different mirrors,” Richey said. “I’ve seen so many times, when people pull together, things get done and things get found.”

The couple said the community got behind the saw shop and that generally, people are “just tired of things happening like this in Nanaimo.”

As the video footage got more attention, Richey said a man called police to say he had the carving and told police where it could be picked up.

Richey said he picked up the carving in the Island Timberlands Road area near Cassidy. Richey believes the man who had it is not thought to be one of the men on the video.

“Isn’t that crazy?” Richey said. “Someone wanted it bad enough [they] probably hired someone to steal it.”

Richey makes his money selling carvings and painting windows for stores, such as holiday scenes. Most of it’s word of mouth and he’s busy with painting Christmas windows at the moment.

He also competes in chainsaw competitions around the world that can yield prizes as high as $5,000, though those have been cancelled this year because of the pandemic.

Richey hopes the people who stole the carving will be charged for breaking into the saw shop’s yard and stealing property.

Richey and Marie have a longtime relationship with owner John Walker, and Walker’s Saw Shop supports Richey in his competitions. They say the way the community rallied restores any faith stolen when the carving was taken.

Asked about the name of the carving, Man Cave, and whether he has such a getaway, Richey said he does not.

“I just dream of one like others,” he quipped. “When I carved it I thought, Tthat will look really nice in somebody’s place.’ ”

ceharnett@timescolonist.com

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