- Associated Press - Friday, December 4, 2015

ST. LOUIS (AP) - A man has been charged with stealing a historic Missouri log cabin - piece by piece.

The cabin in question, built in the 1870s, was in a remote area of Wildwood in far southwestern St. Louis County. Two sisters who own it were in the process of donating it to the city to use as a historic attraction.

But sometime between Nov. 24 and Nov. 29, the cabin disappeared.

The son-in-law of one of the owners went by the property on Nov. 30 and realized the cabin - valued at around $50,000 - was gone, according to a probable cause statement. Only the roof and foundation were left behind.

Police publicized the unlikely theft this week. An anonymous caller said there were timbers behind an apartment complex in Wentzville, in nearby St. Charles County.

St. Louis County prosecutors on Friday charged Gregory Cole, 54, of Wentzville, with one count of stealing over $25,000. He was jailed on $40,000 bond and did not yet have an attorney.

St. Louis County police spokesman Brian Schellman said Cole confessed to stealing the timbers and the cabin’s contents, telling authorities he was familiar with the cabin because he grew up in the Wildwood area and his mother still lives there.

Cole, who lives in the complex where the caller saw the timbers, said he planned sell what he could, Schellman said.

The good news is that the cabin can most likely be restored, said Greg Barth, acting chairman of the Wildwood Historic Preservation Commission.

“We’re just delighted we’re not going to lose it,” Barth said.

Tentative plans call for moving the cabin to a community park. The move has been awaiting new bids after initial bids came in higher than expected.

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