Rincon Band
Rincon artifacts that detectives recovered following a burglary at Harrah’s Resort in Valley Center. Photo credit: Courtesy, San Diego County Sheriff’s Department

Authorities arrested a man Saturday on suspicion of stealing priceless Native American artifacts from a historical exhibit at Harrah’s Resort Southern California.

At 7 a.m., detectives served a search warrant at the home of Sonny Hunter, 32, in the 10000 block of Quail Glen Way in unincorporated Escondido.  They located all of the artifacts stolen from the casino, then took Hunter into custody.

He faces multiple charges, including burglary, grand theft and possession of stolen property. He’s being held at the Vista Detention Facility.

“The stolen artifacts are highly significant to the Rincon Tribe and the Luiseño culture,” said Chairman Bo Mazzetti of the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians.  “These pieces are considered priceless and irreplaceable, to us and our history.  We wish to thank the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department and our Harrah’s security team for keeping us updated throughout the investigation and working tirelessly to recover these stolen items.”

The Rincon tribe installed the exhibit two years ago at the Valley Center casino.  Many of the artifacts came from the Rincon Indian Reservation and are considered irreplaceable. 

On Thursday morning, a man entered Harrah’s and forcibly opened a locked plexiglass case near the casino’s event center and stole six artifacts.  Officials summoned deputies from the Valley Center Sheriff’s Substation to the scene.

In addition to Hunter’s arrest, deputies also took Donald Morrow, 37, into custody while serving the search warrant. They found an outstanding felony warrant for Morrow. He faces a charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm. 

The authorities also booked Morrow into the Vista Detention Facility.