Edmonton·Updated

Surveillance video of brazen statue theft goes viral, riles up neighbours

The search is on for a statue bandit, after video of a woman stealing a lawn decoration from an Edmonton doorstep in broad daylight went viral on social media.

'I think this person has probably learned their lesson just because of the way it's gone out on social media'

Tim Barnes is asking for the community's help in identifying this woman who was caught on camera stealing a statue from his front yard. (Tim Barnes)

The search for a statue bandit is over.

Video of a woman stealing a lawn decoration from an Edmonton doorstep in broad daylight went viral this week on social media.

Wednesday police said they have a suspect.

Tim Barnes discovered his statue of a Chinese warrior was missing from his front lawn in the south end neighbourhood of Forest Heights last week.

Barnes thought his surveillance cameras had perhaps captured an inebriated thief stealing the four-foot-tall plaster lawn decoration under the cover of darkness. But what was in the footage came as a shock.

A sleek, black SUV parks in the middle of the street. A blonde woman in a blue sweater and black leggings emerges from the vehicle, walks over and wrenches the large white figurine off its pedestal, then drives away.

The incident happened at about 8:30 p.m. on June 20, while the sun was still up.

"A person casually comes up, looks around, actually had to break it off because I had it glued to a mount, and then runs back to their vehicle, puts it in the back of their vehicle and drives away," Barnes said.

'People are pushing back'

Barnes' wife put missing posters around the neighbourhood, and his neighbours helped him post the surveillance footage to Facebook.

Since it went public on Sunday, the clip has been viewed more than 57,000 times, and garnered dozens of tips from armchair sleuths and concerned citizens.

During an interview Wednesday with CBC Radio's Edmonton AM, Barnes said he's a "little overwhelmed" with the attention the footage has gotten.

The couple bought the plaster statue for $100 at a wholesale shop a about five years ago and it has adorned their front garden every summer since.

"It was just something we really liked, it wasn't a big cost," Barnes said. "But to me, it comes down to the principle that someone is walking into your front yard and stealing something in broad daylight."

The plaster statue wasn't all that valuable, but the response from the community has been priceless, Barnes said.

The Ming figurine has brought the neighbourhood together in an unexpected campaign for justice.

"I think the community, a lot of people in different communities, are getting tired of people just doing random acts like this, of vandalism or whatever you want to call it, and people are pushing back," he said. 

"Social media is a great platform for that."

A few people have already come forward identifying the suspect, said Barnes but police have not laid any charges.

Barnes would like an apology note from the thief, and wants his statue returned to its rightful place on his property.

He doesn't necessarily want the thief charged. He thinks all the public shaming has been punishment enough.

"I think this person has probably learned their lesson just because of the way it's gone out on social media," he said.

"We're just going to leave it with the police and see what happens."

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