COEUR d'ALENE - Here's a tip: When you steal something, don't post a picture of yourself on Facebook with the stolen item.
Especially when that item is a 70-pound, fiberglass cow that's a local icon and has been the subject of news stories
"It's back home," said Tracy Gagnon, owner of the antique, brown and white cow that was stolen April 27 from the front of the Paris Flea Market, 1815 N. Fourth St.
The cow was recovered by police on a porch near Fourth Street and Coeur d'Alene Avenue on Wednesday morning. Police were tipped off by a caller, whose daughter saw photos of the suspect posing with the cow on his Facebook account.
Detectives found the cow partially hidden under a blanket.
Brandon M. Hiza, 23, Coeur d'Alene, was arrested for grand theft, a felony, and was being held without bond in Kootenai County jail. His first court appearance is scheduled today.
Hiza, who is on felony probation for burglary, admitted to detectives that he and a friend took the cow "to be funny," said Sgt. Christie Wood.
The Gagnons didn't find it amusing.
Jeff and Tracy Gagnon picked up their cow and set it back in front of their shop Wednesday.
"Police had me take it because they didn't have room in their evidence locker," Jeff said, smiling.
Tracy and Jeff Gagnon were there when Hiza was arrested and asked him why he took it.
"He said it was just a prank," Tracy said.
When Jeff Gagnon asked why he didn't return it, Hiza reportedly said he didn't have a truck.
Tracy was delighted the cow was home. They decorated it with a sign that read "Welcome Home Moo La La!!" and a derby hat.
Customers were stopping in Wednesday, too, happy to see the cow again.
"He got cracked a little bit, but he's in one piece," she said.
The Gagnons bought the cow at an estate sale two years ago for $2,800. It was believed to be from the 1940s.
Tracy said the cow quickly became a leading attraction, with folks often posing with it for pictures. Paris Flea Market was at 823 N. Fourth before moving to its new location earlier this year.
"I love the new space," Jeff said. "The only problem we ever had here was the missing cow."
Jeff said the cow will be kept inside at night until he can secure it with a heavier chain.
"He'll be permanently fastened, somehow," he said.
Without the cow, Tracy said, business hasn't been the same at Paris Flea Market.
"We missed him," she said.