Mystery Solved: Stolen Buddha Statue

September 2, 2007

It isn’t often that I include local news here on the blog, but I was a little intrigued by this story:
Elk River woman arrested in theft of Thai Buddha statue

The high demand and soaring prices for scrap metal appeared to be the reason a 7-foot statue of Buddha, covered in copper-laden bronze, was stolen from an outdoor temple shrine at the Thai Buddhist Center of Minnesota, police said.

Police Chief Jeff Beahen said a 45-year-old Elk River woman was arrested Friday night, and a male family member was being looked at as another suspect in the theft.

The statue, valued at $10,000, was stolen Wednesday night, and a detective issued a statewide alert to police and scrap dealers Thursday with a photo of the stolen statue.

Early Friday afternoon, a recycling company in Monticello called the detective, saying they had taken in two pieces of scrap they believed to be from the statue.

I had no idea that there is a black market for scrap metal.  I’m also wondering exactly how someone would steal it.  I mean, the thing must have weighed hundreds of pounds.


  1. Oh yeah there is a huge market for stolen scrap. Here in Dayton, Ohio, there are thousands of abandoned houses – many of these have been stripped for their copper and other wiring. Copper prices are so high right now that it is especially lucrative to steal copper plumbing. One guy on 3rd Street climbed a telephone pole and tried to steal the copper phone wire. Now, telephone wire carries a current, so the dude was immediately electrified, dead on the spot. People have stolen city property and tried to sell it to scrap yards, and the city has set up stings where they have tried to sell their own property (like metal parking meters) to the scrap yards as a way to limit this crime. Rather than go after the theives, it is more politically correct to go after the scrap owners, who have done a pretty good job of self-policing. There are certain things they just won’t purchase off of people for scrap, and they keep in close communication with the police.

    I have family in the scrap business, and when our yard was busted into, some lead coil was stolen. It popped up in a scrap yard south of town within a day and the perps were promptly arrested.

  2. I actually know the person who did this. He backed up his little ford ranger up to the statue and dropped it in. At he time, he was a meth head and this was income for his habit!

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