Backpacks have now been banned at the Qualicu Beach Museum after staff discovered some items missing from the displays last week.
Museum manager Netanja Waddell said the theft included a handmade porcelain doll, which was snatched from its crib and a horrific substitute doll was put in its place.
“The one they replaced it with is really, really ugly,” Waddell said. “It’s just garbage. It reminds me of Chuckie.”
The missing doll was made by Verona Sharman, who created it for her granddaughter nearly 30 years ago.
“I made two of them from scratch,’ she said. “My granddaughter is now 37 and she was about eight when I made it for her.”
The missing doll, she said, was about two feet in length, with blonde, curly hair, a blue dress and a petticoat.
“I sanded down the porcelain, painted the face, painted the eyes, put on the eyelashes, everything,” Sharman said. “The feet, legs and arms and hands are also porcelain, but the body is stuffed.”
She said it likely cost her about $100 to make the doll 30 years ago, but she has no idea of its value today.
The doll had only been on loan to the museum a couple of years ago and Waddell said it was definitely in place at the start of the summer season.
“The really terrible thing is that it was replaced,” Waddell said, noting this was the first such theft ever from the museum. “It means it was deliberate. Maybe someone came in, saw that there was some good stuff and then they came back later with the ugly doll in a backpack and did a switch.”
A subsequent investigation by museum volunteers found several other items missing, including a replica metal carriage with four metal horses.
Waddell said she’s hoping the thief will return the doll and she encouraged whoever it was to leave it at the museum entrance any time, no questions asked.