Update: Stolen dance paddle has been found

Update June 18, 2014 at 1:28 pm

Juneau Police report the recovery of an 8-foot long dance paddle that was stolen on Saturday night after the end of Celebration 2014.

Lt. Kris Sell said a resident of Parkwood Drive near the Glacier Cinemas reported finding the paddle. It may have been dropped or dumped by thieves on the run. The resident called police Monday evening after seeing a picture on Facebook about the paddle’s theft from the theater parking lot.

At least five vehicles were rifled and various items stolen during Saturday night’s late show.

Sell said the red and black paddle is still in one piece and appears to be undamaged. It’s safely stored in the police station’s evidence room. She said they have not recovered any other items from Saturday’s vehicle riflings.

The paddle was crafted by carver Doug Chilton and Sitka dancer Wilbur Brown and his family, and it was first used at Celebration this year. Brown is a member of the Kake dance group Keex’ Kwaan.

Brown was unavailable for comment on Wednesday afternoon.

Dance paddle

Wilbur Brown of Sitka poses with his dance paddle in this photo on Facebook’s Juneau Buy ~ Sell ~ Trade page. The paddle was among items stolen from vehicles parked at Glacier Cinemas on June 14, 2014. (Photo used by permission)

Original story June 17, 2014 at 5:25 pm

Juneau Police are looking for an aggressive thief or thieves who helped themselves to a variety of items from vehicles parked in the lot of a Mendenhall Valley theater.

Lt. Kris Sell said police started receiving calls after Saturday night’s late show. Moviegoers reported the theft of an iPod mini, a backpack, $150 worth of miscellaneous items, and an 8-foot-long dance paddle used during Celebration last week.

“We have five victims,” Sell said. “There’s a possibility, of course, that there might be even more so we would want to be contacted by anyone who was at the Glacier Cinemas and got their vehicles rifled Saturday night.”

Wilbur Brown of Sitka said the dance paddle was covered up in the bed of his pickup.

“The yellow cedar itself is a pretty expensive piece,” Wilbur said. “But the design and the paddle – to me – was pretty priceless.”

Brown said carver Doug Chilton helped cut out the paddle and shape it, and then he and his family worked on the paddle in preparation for its first use at Celebration 2014.

“My wife did some painting on it after my son and I worked on shaping it a little bit more,” Brown said.

Paddle painting

Wilbur Brown’s son paints detail on the dance paddle used in Celebration 2014. (Photo courtesy of Wilbur Brown)

Brown said the paddle includes lettering of Keex’ Kwaan, the name of his dance group in Kake, and it’s painted red and black in a design symbolizing his Tsaagweidi Killer Whale Clan.

“So (the paddle design) was one long dorsal fin and then (my wife) put in some red paint for the ovoids,” Brown said. “Then she had a circle that was right inside some of the red, a black circle in there to help show that it was a dorsal fin.”

Regalia and other items inside Brown’s locked truck were not taken. But items were stolen from other locked and unlocked cars in the theater parking lot. A door handle was broken off in an unsuccessful attempt to gain entry to another vehicle parked near Brown’s truck.

Brown said he was initially hurt and shocked that someone would steal such a personal item, but the incident will not dissuade him from returning to Juneau for future Celebration events.

“We’re not going to let anything like this discourage us from having to get together with our people,” Brown said.

The natural high that I received from dancing, being with my own people, singing, and just getting along, I can’t let this take away from it.”

Sell said it’s possible that a brazen smash-and-grab late last month at the theater was a test run for the thieves. In that incident, a woman reported her purse and iPhone stolen after someone broke the vehicle window.