I am not sure what is more curious: the alleged crime of Charles Edward Jenks or the way he allegedly avoided a criminal charge. Police say that Jenks really really wanted a totem pole for his home so he stole an 18-foot totem pole (not the one shown) from the city. He then reportedly avoided a criminal charge by donating $20,000 to the city.
Jenks reportedly thought the totem pole was perfect for the two-story garage stairwell of his lakeside home. Police say that he convinced a crane company to move the totem pole under the guise that he was the city arts commissioner who wanted to restore the pole.
What is astonishing is that, when trying to cart off the pole, the truck got stuck and blocked traffic. The police then came and watched as it was pulled away.
When police investigated, Jenks reportedly lied to them and they did not see any evidence of the pole. However, neighbors said that he had been talking for months about getting a totem pole. After speaking to the towing company, they arrested Jenks and he told them the totem pole was on a boat trailer at a senior center in Keizer, Ore. His brother helped move the totem police but insisted that he did not know what it was. He said that an earlier stroke had destroyed his ability to remember things.
It took eight months, but the pole was finally returned to the park. One would expect a flurry of felonies to follow. Instead, King County prosecutors let bygones by bygones in exchange for a donation of $20,00) for the restoration of the pole and another pole that disappeared.
Given the knowing theft of an art and cultural piece — as well as the prolonged effort of concealment — I am not sure what it takes to be criminally charged in King County.