Vancouver police have released photos of a suspect in the theft of irreplaceable ceremonial items from an Indigenous group that was in Vancouver earlier this month.
The items, which include drums and traditional regalia, belong to the Lake Babine Nation.
Members were in Vancouver to perform at a First Nations Health Authority forum at the Vancouver Convetion Centre on Jan. 15, when the theft occurred from a van in a parking lot near West Pender and Richards streets.
“The true value of this ceremonial clothing and drums is not monetary,” said Sgt. Aaron Road.
“It’s priceless in terms of the cultural significance to the people of the Lake Babine Nation.”
“Our investigators have been working diligently on this case but have been unable to locate the items. We believe that someone knows where these items are. We just want them returned.”
Police said the thief made off with nine pieces of regalia, five drums and traditional boots — all of which are used during ceremonial cultural presentations.
The nation says many of the items have been passed down from generation to generation, and are one of a kind.
Vancouver police say two items have since been turned in to the Carnegie Centre on the Downtown Eastside, and are encouraging anyone in possession of others to do likewise.
“The remaining items can be dropped off in any public place like a community centre or our community policing centres, so they can be returned to the Lake Babine Nation,” said Roed.
The suspect in the theft is described as having a medium build, and wearing a dark, camouflage hoodie under a black puffy vest and dark pants.
He was last seen leaving an eastbound bus on Hastings Street, pulling two dark grey suitcases containing the stolen items.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Vancouver police of Crime Stoppers if they wish to remain anonymous.