The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Crime & Courts

February 4, 2013

Bronze statue, stolen from Miami library, recovered in Joplin

MIAMI, Okla. — A statue that was missing from the Miami Public Library was recovered over the weekend after showing up at a metal recycling business in Joplin, Mo.

The statue disappeared from the library on Jan. 24, according to Marcia Johnson, director of the library.

“We go out in the morning to clean up outside, and one of the workers noticed that it was gone,” Johnson said. “All that was left was just the bolts that it was attached to. We figured that someone stole it, and they were going to try and recycle it off for the cash.”

Johnson’s prediction wasn’t far from the truth. The 40-inch-tall bronze statue of a boy reading appeared late last week in Joplin at CMC Recycling, 1201 S. Iowa Ave. Steven Jones, manager of CMC, said that when the statue was brought in, he thought something might be up.

“A man came in last week, and he claimed that he found the statue in his grandpa’s pasture,” Jones said. “He said that he went to another recycler to try and sell the statue, and said he was just going to toss it if he couldn’t find someone to buy it.

“We knew that this statue had to belong to someone, so we bought it off of him and decided to call the police to see if we could find out who it belonged to.”

Jones said the business paid $200 for the statue, which is valued at more than $2,000.

“We try to stay away from anything that could possibly be stolen,” Jones said. “But in this case, we figured that it wouldn’t be too hard to find where it belonged.”

Joplin police contacted authorities in Miami to see if the statue was the one reported missing from the library.

The Miami Police Department has not commented on the investigation. A representative of the Ottawa County district attorney’s office said prosecutors are waiting for police to conclude their investigation before deciding whether charges will be filed against the man who took the statue to CMC Recycling.

Johnson said the library is happy that the statue will be returned.

“We haven’t got it back yet, but it is in police possession,” she said. “We’re just happy to know that it was recovered. We thought it might be a prank at first. But when it didn’t return, we started to wonder if it was coming back.”

Johnson said the library is looking at measures to prevent future thefts.

“We will definitely secure the statue down better, and we will also look into putting a fence around it to limit direct access to the statue,” she said.

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