The bronze statue of a woman, missing from a park near Five Points for more than a year, was returned to the Columbia parks department Monday.
The sculpture of a mother – part of a family of three, holding hands – will be reassembled at Maxcy Gregg Park, if possible, parks director Jeff Caton said.
It’s at least the third time one of the pieces has been stolen and recovered since the R.A. Bloch Cancer Survivors Garden was dedicated in September 2003, according to news reports.
Caton said thieves probably expected the statue to be valuable to a recycler, which it is not.
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The 5-foot-tall statue, weighing about 250 pounds, was recovered by a sheriff’s deputy from woods at a dead-end street in Arthurtown where stolen items often are dumped, said Capt. Chris Cowan, a spokesman for the Richland County Sheriff’s Department.
The officer called city police, who notified the parks department.
Caton said it took four people to load the piece on the back of a truck. It is now in storage while he negotiates with the fabricator to see whether it can be safely repaired.
Its only damage was to the foot, where it was pulled away from its companion pieces in November 2012.
Jennifer Timmons, a spokeswoman for city police, said there are no suspects.
Caton set the replacement cost at $18,000.
“There’s no real monetary value in it, aside from the artistic value,” he said. “They cost a fortune to fabricate, but the material is not of high value from a recycling standpoint.”
A separate piece still is missing from the $1 million sculpture garden.