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Taylorsville Journal

Police locate a pair of historic blacksmith anvils missing more than two years

Mar 04, 2024 12:20PM ● By Carl Fauver

This pair of antique blacksmith anvils had been missing more than two years when a helpful tip led Taylorsville Police detectives to them at a Murray home. (Keith Sorensen)

You’ve heard the phrase ‘cold case’ because it’s everywhere from television dramas to podcasts. But you’ve never heard that term applied to a pair of missing antique anvils – until now.

“These anvils were stolen more than two years ago,” former Taylorsville City Councilman Keith Sorensen said. “We thought we’d never see them again. Personally, I figured they were in Canada or Mexico by now.”

Your grandkids may throw around the phrase “OG” – which can stand for either “original gangster” or “old guard.” Sorensen is an OG Taylorsville city councilman.

“I was on the city council for the first six years of Taylorsville’s existence (1996-2003),” he said. “Back then, we all held ‘at-large’ seats. There were no geographic council districts then. I was involved in the city’s original decision to purchase the Taylorsville-Bennion Heritage Center. You could also consider me an original (OG) member of the Taylorsville Historic Preservation Committee.”

Sorensen’s long since moved out of the political realm. But he remains an active member of the Historic Preservation Committee. One of his roles in the group is to oversee the blacksmith shop, just a few yards north of the old white farmhouse.

“Our blacksmith shop building is just a modern shed,” he explained. “But it is filled with historic tools of the trade – a forge, bellows, a hearth, all kinds of odds and ends – from the Taylorsville area. Most of the antique tools, including the two anvils, were donated to the museum by the Deverall family. Their blacksmith shop used to be located where Walgreens is (4700 S Redwood Road).”

Sorensen reports he locked the blacksmith shop up for the winter just before Christmas 2021. When he returned in February 2022, he saw the lock had been damaged and the building broken into.

“We looked through the shop very carefully when we reported the theft to Taylorsville Police,” Sorensen said. “The only things we discovered missing were the two blacksmith anvils. The smaller one weighs 65 pounds; but the bigger one is 170 pounds. Moving them could not have been easy.”

Police Detective Dan Christensen has been solving crimes in Taylorsville since 2015 – first as a part of the Unified Police Department, and then transitioning to TVPD when it formed nearly three years ago. He was involved in the original search for the anvils two years ago.

“The Historic Preservation Committee had been very thorough about documenting their antiques, recording serial numbers and taking pictures,” Christensen said. “But we just didn’t have any good leads on the missing anvils. Recovering stolen property like that is very difficult. The best thing people can do to protect their own property is what the committee did. File away photos and serial numbers of your belongings.”

It’s safe to say, all hope of ever seeing the missing anvils again was long, long gone. Then everything changed early last month.

“My daughter called on Feb. 1 to tell me several antique anvils had been posted for sale on KSL Classified – and there were photos of them,” Sorensen said. “I pulled it up, and one of them definitely looked like one of ours. The next morning I emailed the city about it and they notified Taylorsville Police.”

That rock solid lead allowed TVPD to perform “same day service.” By that night, Feb. 2 – after more than two years missing – both anvils were safely locked in Sorensen’s garage.

“After we received the tip and found the online listing ourselves, one of my fellow detectives posed as a potential anvil buyer and went to the suspect’s home in Murray,” Christensen said. “He spoke with the suspect who, at one point, actually mentioned the anvil was from our museum. During the conversation, the suspect confessed to having antique equipment from our (Taylorsville-Bennion Heritage Center blacksmith shop) and from Wheeler Farm.”

The smaller missing Taylorsville anvil was still at the suspect’s Murray home. But the larger one had been sold to Utah County residents. So, that same day, TVPD drove down to retrieve that 170-pound anvil and return it to Keith Sorensen and his committee.

Another antique implement (not an anvil) stolen from Wheeler Farm was also recovered by authorities in Tooele County, after people there had purchased it.  

Police report the juvenile suspect was fully cooperative and was arranging to pay restitution to the Utah and Tooele County buyers. At press time, authorities had not filed criminal charges or identified any additional suspects.

“I have to pay tribute to our police department,” Sorensen said. “Less than six hours after I emailed the city with the tip about the KSL Classified listing, detectives were calling me – asking me to come to the Murray home to positively identify the small anvil. By then, they also had the (Utah County) address where our larger anvil had gone. By that night, it was also back. All I can say is, I am shocked and awed and very grateful to our police.”

And the OG city councilman added one more bonus – something practically unheard of in the world of property theft.

“These anvils have actually never looked better,” Sorensen concluded. “During their investigation, our detectives learned the suspect had been using the anvils for blacksmithing. Then, when he decided to sell them, he cleaned and polished them better than I had ever done. They are in great shape. On the open market, they are worth a few, maybe several hundred dollars. But historically, to us, they are priceless. We’re thrilled to have them back.”

During her regular report to the city council the following week, Taylorsville Mayor Kristie Overson shared the story of the anvils’ recovery with her fellow elected officials.

“It’s just such an awesome, feel good, miracle story,” she told them. “I heard a little about (the 1-day investigation and recovery) while it was in progress. And then, of course, I was excited to hear both anvils had been recovered.”

There’s no word yet on when the antique anvils will make their way from Sorensen’s garage back to the Taylorsville-Bennion Heritage Center blacksmith shop. Right now, he says their locks and security are being evaluated and upgraded as needed. λ

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