Garrett Burbank owes his wife an apology.
For years, Becky Burbank had been nagging him to lock his truck. Then, as she had warned, Garrett’s hunting gear was stolen last month, in the middle of his elk season.
“It was all I could do to not tell him I told you so,” Becky said.
Garrett’s pack was taken from the truck, which was parked inside the privacy fence of their Powell home; Garrett had thought it would be safe. Not only were his possessions gone, he also had to explain what had happened to his wife.
Becky was devastated.
“I was angry and frustrated with the violation of our home. It was maddening,” she said.
“She was very angry,” Garrett said.
Taken were about $3,000 worth of optics, knives, packs and assorted “boy toys,” as Garrett calls them. He had been purchasing one piece of equipment a year for several years, often selling his trophies to raise the money.
“I couldn’t justify spending family money on boy toys, so I sold all of my antlers to buy my optics,” Garrett said.
He got $17 a pound for the trophies, which took several years to find and harvest in order to raise the $1,500 for the optics alone. The couple called Powell police and posted a Facebook message offering a $500 reward — no questions asked — for the return of the equipment. The post was shared 258 times, Becky said.
Then on Christmas morning, as Becky was taking out a bag of shredded wrapping paper from the Burbanks’ children’s gifts, she saw a black garbage bag sitting inside the fence. The perpetrator had once again entered the family’s yard, this time to return the gear.
Becky returned to the living room and dropped the bag in front of Garrett. “He was like a little kid. I thought he was going to cry or laugh. Or both,” she said.
Garrett wasn’t as angry about the theft as one would suspect he would be. Having been in trouble many times as a young man growing up in the Lander area, he had a heart for whoever took the gear. Garrett doubted he’d ever see it again, but suspected someone in the neighborhood, “probably kids,” he said.
Garrett wasn’t keen on them getting in trouble for grand theft larceny, but he was frustrated. He was forced to hunt without his gear if he wanted to fill the freezer before the end of the season in Hunt Area 54. He was hunting Bald Ridge and misjudged the distance without his rangefinder. The first shot hit the dirt in front of the elk.
“It was my first miss in six years,” he said.
The next shot found its mark, but slightly off.
“He was more upset by the meat ruined by his shot than having his equipment stolen,” Becky said.
Becky soon posted a picture of Garrett in his flannel pajamas, thanking everyone online for helping with the return of the gear.
“I love Powell. Seeing how many times [our post] was shared and having it returned on Christmas morning ...,” Becky said.
As he went through the bag of returned gear, though, Garrett found a couple extra surprises. There was a second rangefinder and someone else’s knife in the bag.
“Obviously we weren’t the only people targeted,” Garrett said.
The couple called the Powell Police Department to return items that weren’t theirs. Sgt. Chad Miner came to the house, taking some fingerprint and DNA samples.
Miner indicated Wednesday that there may be a suspect in the case, and that case might be resolved soon.
“By and large, most thefts happen because victims failed to lock their homes and vehicles,” he said.
Miner suggests removing the temptation by not keeping valuables in your vehicle or keeping them out of sight. He said complacency is common — even on occasion in his own family.
“Don’t be a victim,” he said.