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Rash of statue thefts hits California

March 28, 2011 at 4:09 PM

ESCONDIDO, Calif., March 28 (UPI) -- Thieves have been carrying off statues -- some weighing hundreds of pounds -- from lawns across San Diego County, Calif., authorities say.

Many of the stolen sculptures are metal and may be targeted for scrap, Sgt. Christina Bavencoff of the Ramona Sheriff's Substation told the North County Times of Escondido.

At least 18 statues have been stolen in 13 thefts reported since Oct. 14, law enforcement records show. Their total estimated value is $43,820.

"If you have stuff outside, lock it down if you can, and if you see anything suspicious, let us know," Bavencoff warned. "If people do have artwork, it would be in their best interest to mark it somehow so if it is stolen, we can trace it."

She said no arrests have been made, and it is not known if the crimes are related.

The missing statues include two bronze horses in Solana Beach, two Buddhas in Vista, a bronze horse in Rancho Santa Fe, a life-sized copper statue of three children in Bonita and a 600-pound bronze moose and a life-sized aluminum colt, both in Ramona.

As scrap-metal prices have risen, authorities have been scrutinizing metal-recycling businesses.

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