The bronze statue of an eagle in flight stolen from the property of the Boy Scouts’ Quivira Council offices was recovered from the backyard of a house near Central and McLean Boulevard late Wednesday night.
Acting on a tip, law enforcement officers found the bronze sculpture partially buried in the backyard of a house in the 5000 block of West Newell, Wichita police Lt. James Espinoza said. A blue tarp was used to help hide the statue.
The statue with its base is about 6 feet tall. The piece of art, worth about $8,000, has some scratches. Mud cakes feathers on a wing and small sections of the base, but otherwise it appears to be in good shape.
While no one was taken into custody Wednesday night, “we do believe there will be arrests in the future,” Espinoza said.
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Quivira Council officials were thrilled to learn the statue had been found. But Ryan Heikes, field director for the council, said he was “extremely surprised” when he was told the statue had been partially buried.
It was, Heikes said, “an unexpected wrinkle” in the saga of the stolen statue.
“If they thought it could be easily handled, they were very mistaken with that,” he said of the statue, which weighs more than 200 pounds and measures 4 feet wide from wing tip to wing tip. “It is a very strong, heavy piece of metal. It takes a lot to move it, let alone damage it.”
Council officials planned to recover the statue Thursday afternoon. Discussions are already under way about where to place it on the council’s property at 3247 N. Oliver.
“I think that’ll be prudent that we put it in a different location,” Heikes said.
Eagle Scouts love to have their photo taken with the statue, he said, so the new setting will need to be one where that tradition can continue.
“We want it to be publicly available, but we also need to care for its safety,” he said. “The search effort has been huge. It’s been fantastic.
“On the down side of it, a lot of people now know we have this thing and it might become a larger target at this point.”