(Reuters) - A Northern California man has returned a stolen World War One-era cannon that he had bought without knowing it had been taken from a local veteran's hall, police said on Friday.
The war memorabilia collector purchased the inoperable cannon for about $1,200, he told police after hearing a news report that it had been stolen from a veteran's hall in Richmond, California, police said on Facebook.
"This gentleman was more than helpful and felt absolutely horrible he had inadvertently bought a stolen piece of American history," the Richmond Police Department said.
An NBC affiliate in the area reported that the man had put the 5-foot, 1-ton cannon in his front yard in the nearby town of Martinez.
During the early hours of May 1, thieves towed the canon away from the Veterans Memorial Hall in Richmond where it had been since 1947, the police said.
"This act is about stealing a piece of our country's history, and stealing from our war veterans who fought bravely for our country and our freedom," Richmond police said.
They did not say any arrests had been made.
Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Robin Pomeroy