Disabled Veteran's Walking Staff, An Intricate Family Heirloom, Stolen From Tulsa Gas Station

Tuesday, April 20th 2021, 9:39 pm
By: Amy Kauffman

TULSA, Oklahoma -

UPDATE: As of Wednesday morning, News On 6 was told the staff has been found and will be returned.

A disabled veteran is distraught tonight after someone stole his walking stick from a Tulsa gas station. The walking stick has very distinct Native American carvings on it and it's a family heirloom.

Robert Van Fleet said he stopped to get gas at the QuikTrip near 71st and Riverside Monday afternoon when he was on his way to Tulsa Hills.

He said he leaned the walking staff against his car while filling up, and when he got back in his car, he noticed it was gone.

"It’s a part of me,” said Van Fleet. “It's like losing a limb."

He said he hopes whoever took it from him will bring it back.

"I have no bad feelings towards anyone out there. I just, I just really want it back,” said Van Fleet.

Van Fleet was in the Navy and feels unsteady getting around, so he's known for always having his walking staff on hand. He said a neighbor even calls him Moses when he walks the trails near his home.

“He hollers at me because I have my staff, he always said ‘Hey Moses!’" said Van Fleet.

Van Fleet said the walking staff has been in his family for more than 20 years. He said his wife's uncle was Cherokee and he left it to Van Fleet in his will.

"He carved intricate carvings in it all the way around and his wife did the bead work, it has Native American beadwork all the way up and down,” said Van Fleet.

Robert said it also has a leather handle and an antler shed at the top. He just hopes someone will return it, because the walking staff means so much to his family.

“It does mean a lot to us,” said Van Fleet. “I've had a lot of people try to buy it from me and I always say no, it’s not for sale. I could never sell it. It's something I want to pass on to my kids when I pass away.”

Robert has filed a report with Tulsa Police Department.

If you see the walking staff anywhere or know where it might be, call Crimestoppers at 918-596-COPS.