Siesta Key resident Ron Flynn reported his $3,000 bronze statues missing Sept. 5, with suspicion that the theft was the work of a scrapper.
The legs of the twin cranes, which were secured in concrete blocks, looked like someone had used bolt-cutters to break free the sculptures’ bodies, he said.
After snatching Flynn’s figures, the thief went on an avian-themed theft spree ending when Sarasota County Sheriff’s deputies arrested a 40-year-old Bradenton resident.
Det. Tony Colonna, an expert on the scrap-metal beat, arrested Jason McMahon Sept. 21, in connection with two lawn-ornament thefts on Siesta Key and one in Prestancia, according to a Sheriff’s Office news release. All of the incidents involved bronze crane statues, and deputies recovered several other unreported ornaments, including a pelican, Flynn said.
McMahon, a local pool cleaner, may have seen the statues along his route, Flynn said.
The bronze birds landed in three different scrap yards in Manatee County, according to the arrest report. The scrap laws in Manatee County are not as stringent as those in Sarasota County, but a lead in the case came after All American Metals delivered one of the cranes to Suncoast Metals, 2050 51st St., in Sarasota.
The County Commission passed an ordinance last year requiring scrap yards to keep records to make tracing stolen metal easier for detectives, while demand for scrap rises due to a slow economy and rising commodity prices.
Suncoast alerted Colonna, and after Flynn identified one of his lawn statues, the Manatee County scrap yard provided investigators with McMahon’s information.
“This is a prime example of the level of desperation that is driving local crime,” said Sheriff Tom Knight in the release. “He was getting about $100 for each statue despite the actual value.” The ornaments reported stolen were worth roughly $8,500.
The bronze crane deputies recovered will be held as evidence before it can land back in Flynn’s yard, but he lauded investigators’ efforts.
“I couldn’t be more pleased with Det. Anthony Colonna,” Flynn said. “He went out of his way to get this dirt bag.”
Anyone who may be missing a lawn ornament but hasn’t reported it stolen is encouraged to contact the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations at 941-861-4901.