Alberni pair arrested in Royal BC Museum heist
Two Port Alberni residents face theft charges after eight rare pocket watches were stolen from the Royal BC Museum in Victoria and sold for drugs.
Port Alberni RCMP arrested the pair on Jan. 7 at a Kendall Avenue residence.
Brian Gerald Holt, 44, and his girlfriend Stacy Croft, 29, have each been charged with theft over $5,000.
Holt remains in custody and Croft was released on a promise to appear.
Holt is known to Victoria Police, Const. Mike Russell said. Croft is not.
The incident occurred on Jan. 3 in Victoria when museum security staff reported the theft of eight historical pocket watches from a display cabinet to Victoria Police.
Security staff remembered seeing two people acting suspiciously near the display the day before, and subsequently provided detailed information to police.
Investigators examined the cabinet the watches were stolen from and successfully lifted fingerprints. The prints were cross-referenced with suspects in a police database and two days later police got a match. “Once we got that hit it was game on and we were on their trail,” Russell said.
Victoria police tracked Holt and Croft to Port Alberni, where local RCMP traced them to the Kendall Avenue residence and arrested them.
The watches weren’t found at the residence but members of the Victoria PD crime reduction unit were tipped that the items were still in Victoria, and officers were able to recover them.
“They were originally sold in exchange for drugs and exchanged hands a couple more times afterward,” Russell said.
Police identified two other people of interest, “but they’re not facing charges,” Russell said.
The owners of some of the watches are as interesting as the age of them.
One, cataloged at 'RBCM 963.27.1', belonged to Bill Miner, BC’s last train robber. Miner robbed trains in 1904. The watch may have been left behind in the BC Pen after Miner escaped from there in 1907, a museum fact sheet noted.
Another - 'RBCM 999.78.17' - was owned by John Williams Spencer of the David Spencer department store chain and is dated 1900.
And - 'RBCM 2002.51.1'- was owned by Captain James Gaudin, Captain of HBC sailing barque Lady Lampson, which travelled between London and Victoria in the 1870's.