Alert Utahn helps police recover unique bear sculpture stolen in New Mexico

Posted at 9:44 PM, Jun 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-23 09:48:25-04

DAVIS COUNTY, Utah -- A stolen wooden bear from New Mexico, thousands of dollars worth of illegal merchandise, and one Utah man's street smarts led detectives to a major theft case in Davis County.

This story starts with a couple in Albuquerque, but it ends here in Utah. The Newmans talked about how one man took something special from them in broad daylight while they were home.

“I was absolutely shocked, I just couldn't believe it happened," Joan Newman said. "I was shaking. It was terrifying to think someone could come and do that."

The bear was stolen right off their front porch. Surveillance cameras captured the moment a man walked through the Albuquerque couple's gate and took their massive, one-of-a-kind chainsaw-carved bear.

“We went back and looked at security camera... and saw this man just coming in, lifting it up, and carrying it off,” Joan Newman said.

That happened in February. The Newmans filed a report with Albuquerque police but lost hope the 300-pound bear carving would ever return.

“It was our property, and we work hard for everything we have, and it just hurts me someone feels they can come along and take what they want,” Joan Newman said.

Months later and hundreds of miles away, this story takes a unique turn thanks to one savvy Utahn.

“We got a call from a citizen who was concerned that he was going to be purchasing a stolen bike,” said Sgt. DeeAnn Servey of the Davis County Sheriff's Office.

The man told police Michael Perry was selling items out of a storage shed in south Weber and was giving him a deal on a bike that was too good to be true, so the man took a picture of the serial number.

“What happened when we ran the serial number for this bike, it came back stolen from New Mexico,” Servey said.

Police responded to that storage unit, and that’s where they found and arrested their suspect.

“There were lots of stolen items inside the shed as well as inside the vehicle,” Servey said.

Deputies said Perry was selling items online, from bikes and tools, to electronics, and, yes, you guessed it: even a wooden bear.

“When I found out they found the bear, I just could not believe it," Jeffery Newman said. "I was in shock."

The couple was even more surprised to find the bear was 700 miles away. They made the trek to Utah, and now the bear is back on their porch where it belongs.

“It's an amazing story; it’s amazing how things show up in faraway places,” Jeffrey Newman said.

Police are working to return what’s left of the thousands of dollars of stolen equipment. Perry is facing several second degree felonies.