Stolen metal eagle heads back to nest

July 10, 2008|By Steven Stanek | Steven Stanek,Sun Reporter

A $20,000 stolen metal eagle that was recovered along with a cache of weapons and other contraband from a Glen Burnie home will soon return home, Anne Arundel County police said yesterday.

The stainless-steel sculpture, which depicts the eagle in mid-flight and has a 10-foot wingspan, belongs to a larger sculpture that includes another eagle and a 15-foot stainless-steel tree. It stands on the grounds of the Highpoint 100 business park on Coca Cola Drive in Elkridge, Howard County. The entire artwork, by Montana-based artist Jim Dolan, has an estimated value of $70,000, said Ellington Churchill Jr., a senior project manager with Liberty Property Trust, the developer of the business park. The bird was reported missing July 1.

"When it was taken, we joked that it was probably in somebody's clubroom somewhere overlooking a wide variety of activity. It was either that or it was going to be scrapped somewhere," Churchill said. "The way it was found was sweet irony, I guess. We didn't envision that we would be able to get it back, and through a series of events now we will have it returned."

The eagle was found after a fire broke out Monday in the basement of a Glen Burnie home. Fire investigators called police after they discovered several firearms and a large quantity of metal, rubber insulation, copper tubing, air-conditioner coils and the 4-foot-tall metal bird.

Police said they suspect most of the items - though not the guns - were stolen from construction sites around Maryland to cash in on the rising price of scrap metals. The homeowner is being questioned, but no charges have been filed, police said.

Churchill said he saw the eagle on television Tuesday night and received several phone calls from contractors who recognized the bronze-colored bird. He added that the large tree sculpture was installed in April and was equipped with an alarm system designed to protect the entire apparatus from theft, but not its individual pieces.

Police said that the bird was likely sawed off from the sculpture at night.

The eagle has not landed yet. Churchill said it was still in police custody and would be picked up soon.

"When you have a steel eagle with a 10-foot wingspan, you don't just throw it in the back of a pickup truck," he said.

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