DISCOVERY BAY — Fort Discovery is offering a $3,500 reward to anyone who can provide information that leads to the return of a stolen rally marker and the criminal conviction of whomever took it.
The company’s president Joe D’Amico said Monday that he was shocked when he went to the former training facility last Wednesday, Dec. 6, to find that the plaque marking where he said Capt. George Vancouver landed in 1792 in Discovery Bay was missing.
The plaque — about a foot in diameter — was affixed atop a 2-foot-by-3-foot concrete cylinder that was set in the ground.
“It’s so sentimental to us,” D’Amico said, adding that it is used in the company’s branding efforts and has historical significance. “It’s important for us to bring that piece with us to our new location and to find ways to brand more products based on us having that piece.”
The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the theft, Chief Criminal Deputy Art Frank said.
He said the monument had been removed from 3501 Old Gardner Road between Nov. 30 and Dec. 6.
Printed on the marker is “Fort Discovery,” “The Rally Point,” “Unity of Effort,” “Jefferson County,” and a set of coordinates, all surrounding a ship. D’Amico said it marks the point where Capt. George Vancouver landed at Discovery Bay in 1792.
Fort Discovery’s lease on the property ended at the end of October, D’Amico said, so now he is eyeing another site for his facility.
Fort Discovery, Inc., is proposing to move to an area near Tarboo Lake if Jefferson County’s Department of Community Development approves its conditional use permit. The facility would be called Cedar Hills Recreational Facility.
D’Amico, who also owns Security Services Northwest of Sequim, said he had offered to keep cameras on the property while Fort Discovery vacated the property, but said the property owner declined the offer.
The property owner is Irene I. Gunstone, according to Jefferson County records. She died earlier this year, according to Clallam County records. Fort Discovery entered into the lease with Charles and Irene Gunstone in 1988, records say.
Reed Gunstone Sr., who D’Amico said now owns the property, said Tuesday morning he wasn’t aware the marker had been stolen.
He said he had heard about the marker, but “never had any experience” with it.
Gunstone later called the Peninsula Daily News and said he had a prepared statement. The PDN did not receive that statement.
D’Amico said it is difficult to put a pricetag on the rally marker. He paid $1,556.60 to create the marker, but he feels it has much more value than that personally and to the company.
He said he’d have to hire an appraiser to know its real value. Fort Discovery includes coins replicating the plaque with each of the “Expedition” rifles it sells.
He said the marker is iconic to Fort Discovery’s customers and essential in its branding.
The rally marker would have been difficult to steal, D’Amico said. It weighs about 450 pounds and was set 3 feet in the ground.
“You’d have to have some type of heavy machinery,” he said. “It’s not a crime of opportunity.”
It was in the middle of a field that had no road access. The property owner put cable gates up and had blocked the road, which would have made it difficult to bring machinery onto the property, D’Amico said.
“The facility has been fairly secured since we left,” he said. “We’re at the point now where we’re like, ‘how did something get down there?’ ”
D’Amico believes — based on the markings around where the marker was — that whoever took it used a backhoe with a thumb attachment.
“It was somebody who knew that it was there and it is somebody that had the capability to have heavy equipment and operate heavy equipment,” D’Amico said.
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].