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Native American artifacts worth thousands stolen from Durango storage

Durango man offering $1,000 reward for info leading to arrest

Thousands of dollars worth of Native American artifacts were recently stolen from a Durango storage facility, said longtime Durango resident and former archaeologist Branson Reynolds.

“I can’t imagine how anyone knew what was in there or what it was,” Reynolds said. “It’s just a complete mystery.”

Reynolds said he stored a large collection of Native American artifacts at Animas Mini Storage on U.S. Highway 160 in west Durango after he sold his home about four years ago.

Most of the artifacts he collected were an assortment of pottery, bowls, and ladles, mostly from ancestral Puebloans, as well as some rare necklaces and beadwork, when he was working as an archaeologist in the 1980s.

“Back then, you could buy those items at a flea market,” Reynolds said. “They all came from legal places, but at some point I figured it wasn’t right that they should be bought, so I just stopped.”

About three weeks ago, Reynolds said a manager at Animas Mini Storage called him to say the lock on his storage unit had been removed. The manager put on another lock when he discovered it missing.

Reynolds said he hadn’t been to the storage unit for about a month when the manager called, so it’s difficult to pinpoint when exactly the theft occurred.

When he went to visit his storage unit, he discovered at least 20 to 30 items missing. He estimated the loss at $4,000 to $5,000, based on what he paid for the items more than 30 years ago.

“I wish I had more information, but I don’t,” Reynolds said. “It must be obvious, though, because it was the only one broken into.”

Larry Young, manager at Animas Mini Storage who alerted Reynolds, said there hasn’t been a theft at the storage facility for about seven or eight years. While there is a secured gate, there is no surveillance footage that would help in identifying the thieves, he said.

“Nothing else (at the storage facility) was taken,” Young said. “It’s kind of like someone knew he had it in there.”

Reynolds, who has lived in the Durango area since the 1980s, said a select number of family and friends knew about the collection, but he’s still at a loss as to who would know where his storage unit is located.

He said he filed a report with Durango Police Department, which went to the storage unit to take pictures and search for fingerprints.

Representatives with Durango Police Department did not immediately respond for comment Tuesday afternoon.

Reynolds is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the persons involved in the theft. He said informant’s names would be kept confidential. He can be reached at 247-5274.


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