Nearly a week after someone stole nine life-size bronze sculptures of children at play from a Sandy art gallery, the owner says the works made by his father have not yet been found.
“The police are following a few leads,” gallery owner Dan Hill told The Salt Lake Tribune on Friday. “If we find them, I’m afraid they won’t be what they once were.”
The sculptures disappeared sometime last weekend from the Hill Gallery & Sculpture Park at 9045 S. 1300 East. The outdoor gallery was locked at the time with a heavy-gauge chain around its wrought iron security gate. Hill discovered someone had cut through it Monday morning.
Someone also cut the chains and padlocks used to secure the sculptures, and several had to have been pried off the sandstone boulders to which they were anchored, Hill said. He also suspects the thief had help moving the sculptures, weighing from 60 to 150 pounds, into a large truck or trailer.
The stolen sculptures are valued at more than $70,000 — though once turned to scrap, the metal could be sold for about 99 cents per pound, Hill said.
Crafted by Hill’s father, each sculpture is modeled after a real child, mostly through commissions, and each has its own story, Hill said.
This is not the first time one of the bronze children have gone missing. During the last weekend of October, a sculpture of a boy located at the entryway of the gallery and the Canyon Ridge Office Park disappeared. Hill suspects the same thief returned for more.
“I think it’s just a sign of the times. There’s not a ready market source of copper wire, so they turn to things like bronze sculpture,” Hill said.
Seven sculptures remain at the gallery, but Hill intends to move most of them to a more secure location.
Sandy police investigated the scene, dusting the security gate and locks for fingerprints. But at this time, police have no leads on who the thief is, and no surveillance footage to work with, Sgt. Jon Arnold said.
They have notified local metal recyclers to keep their eyes out for the stolen art, Arnold said.
Hill is pleading for the public’s help in recovering the artwork before it is cut up and sold as scrap.
Anyone with information is asked to call Hill at 801-562-9242, or the Sandy City Police Department at 801-568-7200, with the case number 12E010915.