SEATTLE – Seattle police on Monday arrested a 47-year-old man who is the alleged mastermind behind the theft of two ornamental bronze gates that stood for a generation at the entrance to the Washington State Arboretum in Seattle’s Madison Valley.
The man, who was booked into the King County Jail on investigation of theft, was to make his first court appearance Tuesday afternoon, according to jail records and Seattle police spokesman, Mark Jamieson.
The gates, which were commissioned in 1971 and designed by internationally renowned sculptor George Tsutakawa, were reported stolen March 19 after gardeners arrived for work and discovered the gates missing and bolt cutters on the ground, Ray Larson, curator of living collections at the University of Washington Botanic Gardens, told The Seattle Times last month. Thieves also stole brass downspouts from the visitors center.
A detective assigned to the case learned that two suspects attempted to sell the gates and downspouts to a recycling center, but the business refused to buy them, according to police.
A person of interest was identified and police interviewed him at the department’s East Precinct. That man led detectives to the gates’ location, where one had been cut up into scrap and the second was found largely intact, Jamieson said. That man was released.
Since at least March 27, police have been looking for the 47-year-old, who Jamieson described as the primary suspect in the theft.
A South Precinct officer was on patrol Monday when he spotted the suspect, whom he recognized from previous contacts, near First Avenue South and South Orcas Street, police said. The officer called for backup and police found the man hiding in a parked recreational vehicle.
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