EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) – Three people were arrested this Labor Day weekend, accused of trying to steal a piece of Eau Claire culture.
“Raincoat Kids” is displayed outside the Acoustic Café on South Barstow Street.
The sculpture is part of the downtown Eau Claire sculpture tour.
Early Friday morning, the Eau Claire Police Department said it got a call from a man who said three people were trying to steal one of the kids in the sculpture display; hoisting it into a truck and driving away.
That call quickly led to the arrests of those involved in the heist.
Officers said although the piece is heavy, all the suspects had to do was break the statue’s welding to a platform.
The sculpture is now back in safe hands but WEAU 13 News wanted to find out just how secure these statues really are and what's being done to protect them.
When Marianne McElroy walked past her favorite sculpture Tuesday afternoon, she said was shocked to find one of the children from "Raincoat Kids" had vanished.
“It just brought me back to being a child. It was darling,” McElroy said.
The local woman said she breathed a sigh of relief when she found out one of the puddle pals was inside the Acoustic Café for safe-keeping.
“It was just unbelievable to me,” McElroy said.
The work of art is just one of 31 scattered across downtown, part of Sculpture Tour Eau Claire.
James Hanke, a Sculpture Tour board member said while the sculptures are secured with welding, there are always going to be risks with public art.
“And it does provide opportunities for people to do things that they really shouldn't. For better or worse we'll accept the risks associated with placing the pieces in public,” Hanke said.
21-year-old David Burish, 22-year-old Beata McClelland and 22-year-old Mitchel Swinburne are accused of stealing the artwork.
Officers said the young adults from Eau Claire told them the sculpture plot was all part of a prank.
But Officer Kyle Rorder said this is a felony because of the artwork's $21,000 price tag.
“We obviously don't want cages around the sculptures. Hopefully in the future, people can keep an eye out for them if they see anyone doing anything inappropriate with them or what not, contact the police and we can deal with that,” Officer Roder said.
Officer Roder commended the witness for his quick-thinking and helping officer track town the suspects.
The kids will be reunited once the artist can come in and re-secure the statue.
The suspects will be in court for an initial appearance on Sept. 26.
No charges have been filed at this time.