A gang of local Sasquatch hunters may have gotten more than they bargained for when they tried to take a lifelike Bigfoot statue from a front yard in Hopewell Township last weekend. At least, that's David Martinez's theory.
Martinez, 52, has been a Bigfoot enthusiast since watching "The Legend of Boggy Creek" when he was 13. He and his wife, Robin, watch "Finding Bigfoot" on Animal Planet on Sunday nights. While on vacation last summer, he decided to buy a 4-foot Bigfoot statue to join the small collection of sculptures dotting his lawn.
"We think it's neat," Martinez said. "We always watch it on TV, but that's about it. I mean, I'm not going to go camp out in the woods and wait for one of these to come after me."
Sunday morning, he found the statue lying on the ground with its arm nearly broken off. Martinez called state police to investigate a crime he does not consider vandalism but failed theft — he assumes whoever tried to abscond with it did not realize the cement-plaster statue weighs about 300 pounds. He says the statue has withstood multiple storms with 60 mph winds and would not have fallen on its own.
He has discounted vandalism because all of his neighbors say they love the statue. The attempted statue-napping happened a day after he installed a new home security system.
Mary Little, who has lived in the house across the street for 43 years, said at least half of the visitors at her recent yard sale complimented the statue. She added that Bigfoot is now a common conversation topic around their dinner table.
"It is a pretty little thing — a pretty big thing," Little said. "He looks real, from a distance."
The incident reminded her of a concrete owl statue stolen from her yard about 10 years ago — one of "thousands" of owls in her collection. The owl was never recovered.
Neighborhood residents said they believe the criminals in this case to be a group of young people. Aaron Pence, 16, who lives next door, said he saw a group of teenagers stop by the property Saturday night. When he turned on a light, he said, they drove off.
Pence was riding his bike down the block late Friday night, but neither he, Martinez nor Little heard or saw the crime as it took place.
"It's probably the only excitement around here for this year, is the Bigfoot thing," Pence said. "We never have anything going on."
Martinez has reattached the statue's severed arm and will sand it down and repaint it to cover the crack. He plans to buy new sensors and cameras covering his driveway, just to be safe.
"We have no problems with anyone around here," Martinez said. "It's just kids at night riding around. We've only had a problem maybe three years ago, kids smashing mailboxes, which is normal around here."
— Reach Michael Tabb at email@example.com.