Recovered petroglyphs held as evidence

Thieves still sought in case involving major damage to volcanic tablelands

Linda Saholt

News Review Correspondent

When news of the theft of ancient petroglyphs from a site on the volcanic tablelands near Bishop hit the news last October, the story went global.

Two weeks ago, the stolen panels were retrieved by the Bureau of Land Management, as part of an investigation that is still ongoing.

“We received an anonymous tip, and were able to recover them,” said Eric Keefer, senior law enforcement ranger with the Bishop BLM field office. The tip led law enforcement to where the petroglyph panels had been concealed.

Since the investigation is still going on, further details cannot yet be released. “The suspect or suspects are still at large,” he said. “It will take time.”

The Bishop Paiute Tribe and other organizations have raised $9,000 for a reward for information leading to the conviction of those responsible.

Meanwhile, Keefer said, the fact that the panels were recovered was a huge relief both to those working on the case and to the Paiute tribal members.

“When the petroglyphs were brought back, there was definitely a lot of excitement,” he said.

One of the stolen panels was originally located more than 15 feet off the ground. According to a Feb. 2 article by Mike Gervais in the Inyo Register, this panel would have taken extensive effort to remove intact.

The BLM is considering what to do with the recovered panels. They cannot be returned to their original position as the damage done during their removal is too great to repair.

“Right now, the panels are evidence,” said Keefer. Their long-term role is still unclear, with educational use one possibility. “We’re in consultation with the tribe on the whole issue,” he said.

Since the perpetrators have not yet been apprehended, authorities are still looking for help from the public. If you have any information about the theft, you can call in an anonymous tip to Keefer at (760) 937-0657 or Melody Stehwien at (760) 937-0301.

Story First Published: 2013-02-20