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Monday, December 4, 2023
Dec. 4, 2023

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Brazen thieves make off with Bonney Lake statue


TACOMA — A bronze statue that has stood high on a stone plinth for decades welcoming state Route 410 motorists to Bonney Lake was stolen last week and likely will never be seen again.

“The Ascent” by Bonney Lake sculptor Larry Anderson was commissioned by the city and became its de facto logo on city stationery. The sculpture was of a boy reaching upward to a flock of birds.

Sometime overnight on Aug. 24-25, thieves cut wire protecting the statue at Ascent Park, drove a vehicle up to a landscaped site, cut a hole through cedars, climbed up the 10-foot-tall plinth and used a heavy duty saw to cut through bolts securing the artwork. Judging by a gouged trough between the trees, the thieves dragged the statue until they could lift it into a getaway vehicle.

Anderson died in 2018. For his widow, Sharilyn Anderson, the thieves might as well have used a knife.

“With Larry, there was this sense that he had a legacy that would live on,” she said. “To have it desecrated was heartbreaking. For me it was a knife taking away his legacy.”

Bonney Lake first learned of the theft from a citizen’s email on Aug. 25, according to city administrator John Vodopich. A crew dispatched to the scene confirmed the theft and filed a police report, he said.

He called Sharilyn Anderson.

“It was a gut wrench,” she said Thursday. “I felt slapped. It was more trauma, more loss. I was outraged. I couldn’t believe it.”

According to Vodopich, police recovered a reciprocating saw blade and a battery pack, presumably used in the saw. Beyond that, police have little to go on.

It will be the City Council’s decision on what actions to take following the theft, he said. The next meeting is Tuesday.

“I presume it will be a topic of discussion at the meeting,” he said.

The mold for the statue is long gone, Vodopich said.

“It’s not something we could replace or replicate,” he said.

Anderson was commissioned by the city to design and create the sculpture in 1992 for $47,000, according to Sharilyn Anderson’s brother, Jim Hoard. Their son, Caplan, posed for it. He was in junior high at the time.

“He put his heart and soul into this piece,” she said of her husband. “It was to lift you up, not bring you down.”

Sharilyn Anderson said her husband had her climb a ladder and hold a rake above the plinth so he could envision which way to face the statue.

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