Wednesday, April 04, 2007

To catch a predator

Editor's note: And it gets worse. From sculptures to lawn ornaments. Is nothing sacred to these thieves? Probably not, so break out the chains and lock down that bathtub Virgin Mary sculpture in your backyard.

Lawn gnomes beware, Saratoga County Art Council be warned, and local police agencies be vigilant; there’s a serial thief on the loose, pillaging artistic displays from areas spanning from the paved paradise of Colonie all the way to the granola-belt in the neighboring Berkshires. For this predatory thief –or perhaps thieves even –there seems to be no public display too shameful to uproot.

First, there were reports Friday from Pittsfield, Mass., that Dancer II, the artwork of sculptor and Union College graduate Jack Howard-Potter, had been callously plucked from the soft earth near the south side of Park Square. Curiously, the 200-pound statue was located across the street from a wing-and-beer joint called Patrick’s Pub.

Unbeknown to authorities, a dreadfully similar crime had already been perpetrated just 44 miles west in New York, amid the strip mall-laden throughway of Route 7. Snatched from to storefront clutches of a Hewlitt’s Garden Center was an intricately-carved mahogany-stained wooden statue of the Hindu god, Buddha, which vanished last Tuesday without a trace.

Chainsaw carver and statue creator Glenn Durlacher was flummoxed by the pilfering, noting that the crime must have been premeditated, as the thief was savvy enough to brandish a pair of wire-cutters and sever the quarter-inch thick security cable linking the Buddha to his many other creations. Strangely enough, his creation was also roughly 200 pounds and located near Otis & Oliver’s, a local beer-and-barbecue joint located less than a mile away.

In both cases, investigators were baffled. That is until state police in both Massachusetts and New York got their first big break Tuesday. An anonymous tipster divulged that the Howard-Potter’s metal sculpture had gone for a swim in the marshy area near Fish Creek in the town of Saratoga.

Taking statues for a swim seems to be a popular thing to do these days. Not too long ago, as some may recall, a trio of youthful vandals from the city of Amsterdam took one of the art council’s hackneyed plastic “artistic” horses for a swim in the Schoharie Creek. It was among a rash of horse vandalism that occurred that oddly seemed to spread to Pittsfield’s “Sheeptacular” event in 2005 and then Guilderland’s “Pigtacular” celebration last summer.

So as the city prepares again to launch the most recent Breyer horse campaign in a few short months, take heed, arts councilors, as there’s a cunning mastermind on the loose now, who’s been honing his or her craft with much more ambitious thefts. The Saratoga Springs Police might be wise to add a few more beat cops to the downtown area this summer to watch these horses after closing time. Or perhaps they could get Dateline NBC's Chris Hansen to skulk around the horses all summer long with his camera crew.


Blogger Les Clutter said...

Will lawn frogs and pink flamingoes ever be safe?

5:49 PM  

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