Detectives track down ‘priceless’ artifacts stolen from local casino

Local

ESCONDIDO (CNS) – Sheriff’s detectives Saturday recovered six Native American artifacts stolen from an exhibit at the Harrah’s Resort Southern California in Valley Center.

The burglary was reported Thursday morning and the sheriff’s department immediately began an investigation, according to San Diego sheriff’s Sgt. John Delocht.

Many of the artifacts were from the Rincon Indian Reservation and were considered irreplaceable, Delocht said. They were displayed since 2019 in a locked Plexiglas case in the casino, he said.

A man was believed to have forcibly opened the Plexiglas case to steal the artifacts, including an obsidian point on a deer antler.

Sheriff’s detectives worked two days and evidence led them to 32-year- old Sonny Hunter, Delocht said.

Detectives served a search warrant at 7 a.m. Saturday at Hunter’s home in the 10000 block of Quail Glen Way in unincorporated Escondido, the sergeant said.

“They located all of the artifacts that were stolen from the casino,” Delocht said.

Hunter was arrested for suspicion of burglary, grand theft and possession of stolen property, he said.

Detectives also arrested 37-year-old Donald Morrow on a felony warrant and for being a felon in possession of a firearm. He was found hiding in Hunter’s home with a loaded firearm, Delocht said.

Both were booked at the Vista Detention Facility, he said.

“The stolen artifacts are highly significant to the Rincon Tribe and the Luiseno culture,” said Chairman Bo Mazzetti of the Rincon Tribe. “These pieces are considered priceless and irreplaceable, to us and our history. We wish to thank the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department and our Harrah’s security team for keeping us updated throughout the investigation and working tirelessly to recover these stolen items.”

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