A local attorney has returned two African spears and several other items stolen from the Historic Highland Building in January, Boulder police said, but he will not say how he got them.
Officials said the attorney -- who was not named by police -- contacted police to return the items Wednesday but would not share any information about how he came into possession of the stolen property, citing attorney-client privilege.
Besides the African spears, the attorney also returned a Buddhist silk painting, pieces of an ivory hawk statue, a blue stone globe, a book and other items belonging to the Historic Highland Building, some of which were not initially reported stolen. Many of the items were returned broken or damaged.
In addition to stealing several items, the suspects damaged sculptures and glass showcases and stole some cookies from a kitchen in the building.
Boulder police spokeswoman Kim Kobel said Wednesday the return of the items will not deter investigators in their search for the suspects.
"Returning the stolen items doesn't stop the investigation. The investigation is still ongoing and very active," Kobel said. "We think someone knows who these four suspects are. We're hoping that someone from the public will do the right thing and call investigators."
Kobel said the suspects could face charges of second-degree burglary, a Class 4 felony carrying a presumptive sentencing range of two to 12 years in prison and fines ranging from $2,000 to $500,000.
Boulder District Attorney Stan Garnett said that even in cases when a suspect is not yet known to investigators, communication that person has with an attorney is privileged.
"Most of the time, to facilitate free communication between a lawyer and his or her client, almost anything the client says about a previous crime is covered by the privilege," Garnett said. "Police have to make and build their case apart from the communication the defendant has with their attorney."
Garnett added that having privilege in cases of stolen property can sometimes help encourage people to return stolen goods.
"In a situation where somebody returns property, most of the time it is a public good to have somebody returning public property, so you don't want actions discouraging an attorney from returning stolen property."
Police are continuing to investigate the incident. Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Bob Wands at 303-441-3323. Those who want to remain anonymous can contact Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS or crimeshurt.com.
Contact Camera Staff Writer Mitchell Byars at 303-473-1329 or email@example.com.