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Statues stolen from Waukegan Library sold for $270 — then melted

Two bronze statues were stolen from Waukegan Public Library courtyard. A girl playing soccer titled Image Thboy reading book titled

Two bronze statues were stolen from the Waukegan Public Library courtyard. A girl playing soccer titled Image That and a boy reading a book titled Little Scholar. | Thomas Delany Jr.~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: June 21, 2012 9:24AM

The thieves who stole a pair of bronze statues, valued at $15,000, from the courtyard of a north suburban library last month sold the artwork to a West Side scrap metal business, which paid them about $270 and then melted the pieces, police said.

Sometime during the night on May 29 or 30, the statues were stolen from the Waukegan Public Library on County Street, with the thieves chipping away at the fieldstone base to remove the pieces, which were bolted into concrete atop the stone, Waukegan police said.

On Monday, Waukegan police received an anonymous tip about the location of one of the alleged thieves, Daniel R. Ramos. While being questioned, Ramos confessed to his role in the theft, a statement from police said.

Ramos said he and another suspect, who remains at large, had noticed the statues were loosely secured to their bases and felt that they could easily be removed, police said. They stole the statues on and took them to JB Metals at 2910 Carroll in Chicago, police said.

The men were paid $268.80 for the statues, which were then melted down by the scrap company, police said.

Ramos, 30, was charged with one felony count of theft of government property and is being held in the Lake County Jail on $50,000 bail, police said.

In the statement, Waukegan police Chief Daniel Greathouse said the thieves crossed a line, and he berated the scrap metal firm that destroyed the statues.

“It is obvious that members of the community realized how important these pieces were. The information was developed from the criminals’ inner-circle, because even they realized how despicable the crime was — showing that even amongst thieves, there are lines that should not be crossed.

“Who in their right mind would accept these pieces without asking more questions?,” the chief said.

The stolen pieces were “Little Scholar” by Jane Rankin of Monument, Colo., which portrays a boy reading a book while propped on his knees and elbows; and “Imagine That” by Kathy Anderson of Littleton, Colo., which shows a girl reading a book while sitting atop a stack of books.

They were among 11 statues placed around the courtyard as part of the “Art of a Story” program, started in 2000. The works were originally bought for about $15,000, but may have been worth more as both artists have since passed away.

Both pieces were insured, but library officials had hoped to recover the originals.

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