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Watches stolen from Canadian museum have been recovered

Jan. 10, 2014 at 1:19 AM

VICTORIA, British Columbia, Jan. 10 (UPI) -- A couple have been charged with stealing eight gold pocket watches from a Victoria museum, including one that belonged to a notorious Canadian train robber.

Brian Gerald Holt, 44, and Stacey Croft, 29, both of Port Alberni on Vancouver Island were arrested Wednesday, the Alberni Valley News reported. The watches were recovered and are back in the Royal British Columbia Museum.

Investigators say the watches disappeared last Friday, when the museum was crowded because it was a pay-what-you-wish day. Staffers only discovered the watches were missing the next day.

A fingerprint on the case matched a person in a police database, Constable Mike Russell of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said.

"Once we got that hit it was game on and we were on their trail," Russell said.

Russell said the couple had sold the watches to get money for drugs, but police were able to track them down in Victoria.

One of the watches belonged to Bill Miner, a career thief, who moved to British Columbia after serving prison terms in the United States and is believed to have carried out the province's first stagecoach robbery. Miner was played by Richard Farnsworth in the 1983 movie "The Grey Fox."

The glass face of Miner's watch, left behind when he broke out of a Canadian prison, was broken, the (Victoria) Times Colonist reported.

Another watch, dated 1900, was once the property of John Williams Spencer, a member of the family that operated the David Spencer department store chain in British Columbia. One of the others was the property of Capt. James Gaudin, who commanded the Lady Lampson, a vessel that sailed between London and Victoria in the 1870s.

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