By Charles Layton
Sometime in the early hours of Friday morning, this cast iron statue of a mermaid disappeared from in front of Joy Norton’s home on Stockton Avenue.
It was among the latest in a wave of statuary and lawn decoration thefts in Ocean Grove.
Norton said she reported the theft to a Neptune Township officer on Friday morning, and “he said mine was about their third report this morning.” She said the officer speculated that the statue might have been stolen for its metal content, to be melted down.
Two weeks ago we reported on the theft of a stone statue of the Virgin Mary from the front garden of Mary’s Place by the Sea on Broadway. (Read that story here.) Since then, our readers have posted comments about other recent thefts of lawn decorations around town. Those have included thefts of a statue, a water fountain, a decorative planter, a lantern, a wind chime, a metal “gazing ball” and a decorative brass fish. Norton said she had been reading about those thefts on Blogfinger, but she had assumed her own statue “was too heavy for anyone to carry off.” She said it was about two feet tall and weighed about 50 pounds.
She said the statue was still there beside her steps as of 12:30 the previous night, but was gone as of 7:30 Friday morning.
Norton figures the statue was worth about $200. She is offering a reward for its return, with “no questions asked.”
Perhaps the largest piece of statuary to be stolen recently was a stone angel, approximately 5½ feet high, taken from the porch of George and Angela Germann’s home on Clark Avenue about three weeks ago. “They came right up on the porch, and it had to be two people because she [the angel] was very heavy, about 60 pounds,” Angela Germann said. The Germanns believe the thieves must have been using a vehicle to get away with something that large.
People in that same neighborhood also tell of the theft, in recent weeks, of a Japanese maple tree from a yard on Cookman Avenue. It was taken right out of the ground.
But the most bizarre of all the recent thefts was that of a sign stolen from a house on Pitman Avenue. The sign read: “Random Acts of Kindness.”
Postscript: Asked for comment, the Neptune Police Department issued a press release on Friday acknowledging a rise in theft of statues and other outdoor ornaments in Ocean Grove “over the past few weeks.” The department asked that people “use caution in placing expensive items or items of sentimental value” in places where they could be stolen. It also encouraged people to report suspicious activity by calling 9-1-1.