Bad guys steal from good guys
A wooden statue was stolen last weekend from atop an 8-foot pole in front of the Tahoe-Douglas Fire Protection District’s Round Hill Station on Elk Point Road.
The 4-foot carving of a firefighter probably disappeared early Sunday morning, but the Douglas County Sheriff’s office is not certain when the crime occurred. Investigators have no suspects.
“It has been absconded with,” said Battalion Chief Guy LeFever. “I am extremely disappointed. We were trying, slowly but surely, to put a statue at every one of our stations.”
The carving depicts a firefighter with a mustache wearing a long coat and a helmet with fire station No. 3 on the brow. He is carrying a long-handled ax.
There is a similar statue of a firefighter holding a child at the Zephyr Cove Station.
The stolen statue is valued at $400. It was carved by local artist Jerry Toste.
Firefighters said the theft would have taken considerable planning. The two bolts securing the statue were removed and a ladder or a truck would be needed to pull the carving from its perch. The only evidence left by the thieves is a pair of pliers found at the base of the pole.
“It’s amazing that they were able to swipe it from in front of the fire station,” Toste said. “I’m shocked. I thought everyone got a kick out of the carving.”
“The stand looks awfully bare without the statue,” said Tahoe-Douglas Fire Chief Tim Smith. “We just want to get it back and put it where it belongs.
“It has become a symbol that a lot of people have come to associate with the fire department and with firefighters being there for them,” he said. “And it is of little or no value to the person who did this.”
A reward for the statue’s return has not been offered, but Assistant Chief Bruce Van Cleemput did not rule out the idea. He said the statue would be replaced if it is not returned. He hoped anyone with information about the theft would contact the sheriff’s office or fire department.
“It’s disappointing. It would be like stealing something from a church in my view,” Van Cleemput said. “It seems odd that somebody would stoop to that.
“We are hoping that somebody will say, ‘I have it but it does not fit in my room or my garage,’ and give it back.”
“I just think that is crummy,” said Toste, who made the statue four years ago at a considerable discount. “But we are going to have to work something out because they need something on top of that pole.”
Breakout: Anyone with information about the stolen statue can call the Tahoe Douglas Fire Protection District (775) 588-3591, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office (775) 586-7250, or Secret Witness (775) 586-7295.
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