Theft of historic piece unfathomable

Thefts are a new occurrence for sure, and sadly they have almost become expected, with little shock value attached.

Yet when someone brazenly and surreptitiously finds a way into a museum and takes one of its precious artifacts, we somehow feel more violated, more upset and more shocked that anyone would stoop to that level.

From our standpoint, thefts are never acceptable. The Old Testament speaks plainly about the violation and our laws today are intended to curb a person’s desire to take something that belongs to another person, albeit not nearly effective enough.

When we learned from local historian David King, former director of the Sampson County History Museum and one of its co-founders, that one of two 1900s gas pumps sitting at the entrance to one of the museum’s popular pieces, the Old Wooten Store, we were appalled, and we immediately wanted to do all we could to help bring the culprit to justice.

We hope readers will too, coming forward if they have any scrap of information that might lead investigators to the person or persons responsible for taking something that, in every sense, belongs to us all.

When King, interviewed for a story in Tuesday’s Sampson Independent, said what had been taken was actually stolen from all of those in Sampson, it gave us pause. It should, in fact, make every person in Sampson stop for a moment and think about what has happened.

The museum is a part of Sampson County’s history, a big part. By virtue of that fact, and coupled with the contributed money many have given to ensure it remains open and continues to grow in historical artifacts, it is clear that the museum belongs to every single one of us. It is something most, if not all, of us have taken great pride in having within our county.

Today, we should all feel as if a piece of that history has been ripped from us, and we should do everything we can to help museum officials and law enforcement find those responsible.

The theft occurred at the museum, located on Lisbon Street in Clinton, between Saturday, June 30 and Wednesday, July 4. And it was likely taken by someone who had visited the museum, saw the gas pump and wanted it for themselves, either for some fast cash or because they wanted it for their own personal collection.

We suspect, even if taken late at night, someone might have noticed suspicious activity around the museum. Taking the pump could not have been easy and hiding it from view difficult.

We aren’t sure why anyone steals in the first place, but it is unfathomable why anyone would want to walk away with a piece of history that has far more meaning and worth to the museum than it does to any one individual. We feel pretty certain whoever took the gas pump knows this, yet opted to steal it anyway.

It would be nice if that person thought better of the crime and simply brought it back, leaving it right where they found it, or close by. While we believe justice should be served, we would like to see the historic piece back in its rightful place at the museum, unharmed, just as much. That can only be accomplished if the person is caught or the person does the right thing and returns it.

Realistically, we doubt the latter ever happens. So it remains up to the good citizens of Clinton and Sampson County to do their part, helping officials find the person responsible.

If you saw anything suspicious in and around the museum on the days listed, please contact the museum at 910-590-0007 or the Clinton Police Department at 910-592-3105.