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Thieves saw off Jim Davidson bronze sculpture at shoe top

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Mathias Baden

Forum News Service

WOODBURY, Minn. — Two frogs on rocks, a dog on a log, and a shoe are all that are left of a $20,000 statue stolen from the boulevard of a Woodbury shopping center.

The statue’s stay at the South Tamarack Square was a short one.

After purchasing the two-building shopping center for $4.4 million in late 2014, iMetro Properties moved the bronze Jim Davidson sculpture of three children walking on a log with their dog to Woodbury, only to have part of it stolen last month.

Sometime in early April, the leg of one statue was sawed off at the shoe top and bolts connecting the statutes to the log were cut.

It would've taken a herculean effort to carry it off, because the artwork weighs about 1 ton, said Michael Roess, owner of iMetro Properties. The police report says the missing pieces were estimated to weigh more than 500 pounds.

About a year ago, iMetro Properties transplanted the sculpture from the site of the Wasabi building in Minneapolis, where Roess plans to build a 138-room hotel near the Minnesota Vikings' new U.S. Bank Stadium in time for Super Bowl LII.

Roess and his wife Anne live in Edina and collect art, primarily LeRoy Neiman's sailboats, Roess said. When the Minneapolis hotel plans called for the statues to be moved, Roess decided to relocate it near the shopping center.

"We're collectors," Roess said. "We contemplated moving it to the house a couple of times."

Instead, they opted for placing the statues at the new shopping center, because "we wanted to create an upscale feel," Roess said.

After a decade of vacancies the shopping center is thriving. Still, a year's worth of crimes has occurred at the rentals in Woodbury, surprising its landlords, Roess said. "We just never contemplated this here."

While South Tamarack Square is iMetro's first property in Woodbury, Roess said the company would like to do more here. Unfortunately, the first foray into Woodbury has been difficult. Tools had been stolen, and a rash of break-ins occurred, Roess said.

A maintenance employee reported the theft of the statues to police April 6.

Police can alert scrapyards in hopes of preventing the artwork from being recycled, Roess said, so stealing the statues might prove to be in vain.

"I wish someone would just drop them back off," Roess said.