Utah art dealer: Divine intervention led to return of artifacts

RENO, Nev. (AP) – Utah art dealer Lee Snarr credits divine intervention for the recovery of several expensive religious artifacts that were stolen last month along with his trailer minutes after he stopped for a dinner break.

“I know without any doubt that God had a hand in them being restored to me,” Snarr said. “It’s quite a miracle.”

Over the weekend, seven of eight stolen statues were found north of Reno by a couple walking their dog, authorities said.

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Last month, Snarr’s trailer and two Mormon holy books from the 1800s were recovered by Reno police. The third stolen Bible was recovered by a Reno Gazette-Journal reporter who turned it into police.

Snarr said he is confident the last stolen item – a 42-inch, 120-pound statue of Joseph Smith, founder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints – will find its way back to him.

“With the value of the sculpture, I sure wouldn’t want to be caught with it,” Snarr said of the $25,000 statue.

Snarr, of Salt Lake City, said the recovered property is in good condition and he still plans to sell it. He was headed for an art show in the San Francisco Bay area when the trailer was stolen.

The property with a combined value of about $400,000 was not insured, Snarr said.

“That was my retirement fund,” he said.

Snarr has three children in college and supports a son who is working as a Mormon missionary in Brazil.

“It would have been a huge financial loss for my family and we are sure relieved we have gotten these items back,” he said.

Snarr said he believes the property was recovered by the will of God because he contributes financially to the Mormon church.

A Secret Witness tip last month led police to a mobile home park north of Reno where Snarr’s utility trailer was located and a person was arrested on suspicion of possession of stolen property.

A few days later, police were called when a man tried to trade one of the stolen Mormon books, valued at $110,000, for a used car. The man was arrested and the Bible was recovered. Following the arrest, a second Bible, valued at $60,000, was turned into police.

An 1852 edition of Mormon scriptures valued at $17,000 was dropped off to the Reno Gazette-Journal police reporter who turned it in to Reno police.

Snarr said he bears no ill feelings toward Reno and plans to visit again. But he has modified his utility trailer to ward off thieves.

“Reno has been good to me the last dozen years and this was just a bizarre thing,” Snarr said. “I think Reno is quite nice.”

Information from: Reno Gazette-Journal


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Associated Press, USA
Nov. 18, 2004
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Religion News Blog posted this on Friday November 19, 2004.
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