Police are looking for any leads after an iconic piece of southern Cariboo history was stolen over the weekend. The final moments of the theft were witnessed by an Ashcroft man, who tells of a dramatic chase that turned dangerous.
At around 11:55 p.m. on Saturday (Dec. 19) thieves made away with a jade boulder, representing B.C.’s official gemstone, that has stood outside the Cariboo Jade Shop in Cache Creek for more than 30 years. It was last seen on a flat-deck trailer being towed by a Dodge pickup truck.
The man and a friend were returning from Kamloops, and saw the pickup and flat-deck — which had an orange excavator on it — parked parallel to the Jade Shop on Todd Road. As they approached the intersection of highways 1 and 97 a man jumped off the trailer and got in the pickup truck, then drove through the intersection.
The Ashcroft man, who does not want to be named, says that as it drove past them, headed east on Highway 1 toward Kamloops, they saw that the massive jade boulder — which is a foot thick and weighs 2,850 pounds — was on the flat-deck in front of the excavator.
At first they did not believe what they had seen, and the pair drove through the intersection and past the Jade Shop to confirm that the boulder was gone. They then turned around and began following the pickup and flat-deck as it travelled east.
“As we left town I called 911,” says the resident, who was not driving the vehicle. “We had got out to the Perry Ranch when a black SUV went flying past us and past the truck and trailer. I was on the phone with the RCMP, and when we got to the Christian Ranch the dispatcher said, ‘stop following them, it’s too dangerous, you don’t know if they’re armed.’”
But as the pair were leaving, someone ran into the middle of the road and threw a boulder at them, which hit the roof and the windshield.
“At that point the black SUV passed us going east. We returned home because it was too dangerous, especially after the rock got thrown. The guy was trying to hurt us.”
They were unable to get licence plate numbers, as the plates on both vehicles were either covered in mud or missing.
The Cariboo Jade Shop is a family-run business that was established in 1967. Heidi Roy, whose family has owned the shop since 1985, says that the thieves do not appear to have been very bright.
Roy says that tips are flooding in and the police are working through them. She’s also seen a lot of online speculation about the value of the boulder.
“I’ve seen estimates that it’s worth $2.5 million. If I had a $2.5 million rock on my doorstep I wouldn’t be going to work every day; I’d sell it and retire.
“If the thieves are paying attention to the media, they’ll know its only value is as a showpiece on the steps of the shop. People are speculating that it will bed cut into smaller pieces because it’s such a recognizable rock, but it’s low grade to start with, and in small pieces it’s worth even less. The excavator used to steal it is worth more than the rock, and it would be much easier to sell the excavator.”
But what the rock does hold, is sentimental value: The rock was put in place by her father, former Cache Creek mayor Ben Roy, after the family bought the business in 1985.
“The mines for jade are so remote and inaccessible that most people don’t see it in its raw form; they just see it in finished form as jewellery or carvings. In the scheme of things it’s a small boulder, but it’s impressive.”
Roy hopes that the rock’s fame might help bring it back home.
“Anyone who sees it will say, ‘isn’t that the rock from Cache Creek?’ If the thieves are listening, I’d tell them, ‘you made a mistake.’ Their best bet is to drop it somewhere where someone will find it and recognize it.”
Security camera video and photographs showing the pickup truck and trailer can be viewed on the Cariboo Jade & Gifts Facebook page. Anyone with any information, who was in the area at the time, or has dash-cam video is asked to contact Ashcroft RCMP at 250-453-2216.
If you wish to remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers.