Teo Figueroa says he woke up not feeling very thankful on Thanksgiving after he discovered that a $3,500 bronze statue outside his home had been stolen.
Figueroa said in an interview in Spanish that he bought the statue of kids on a ladder two years ago at Gallerit, an art store inside the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. He kept the statue leaning up against a tree outside his home at SW 163rd Place and 48th Street.
But Figueroa called police when he noticed that someone had cut the chain he used to secure the artwork.
When he checked his surveillance camera, he saw that shortly after 3 a.m. on Thanksgiving a thief had lugged away the very heavy statue. Moments later the suspect returned to take his bolt cutters, the video shows.
Figueroa said he checked with his Melrose Parc condominium association and no one was seen leaving his gated complex right after the theft. He said his family reported the incident to police who are investigating.
Figueroa said he fears the thief doesn't really appreciate art, and may just want to sell the statue for scrap.
Brass and bronze is a very high-dollar commodity, scrap metal dealer Daniel Isicoff said.
“So unfortunately, since people know that, they're doing whatever they can to take it, like people are stealing from funeral homes, stealing those brass plaques,” Isicoff said.
He said he didn't recognize the statue but said he wouldn't buy it anyway because it would be obvious that it was stolen.
Isicoff said he abides by the rules and doesn't buy anything suspicious, but said the metal theft business is booming because everyone doesn't play by the rules. People have broken into his business and stolen hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of stuff, he said.
Metal theft has become such a prolific industry that Miami-Dade Police have set up a task force to try and tackle the problem.
In the case of the statue, authorities urge anyone with information to call Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS. Figueroa is offering a $500 reward for information that leads to an arrest.