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Statues found dumped in the river

TWO bronze statues, stolen from a busy intersection in Zhabei District on Monday, were retrieved from a river in the district yesterday.

Police said they were still searching for the thieves, who might have dropped them in the river out of fear of being caught.

The stolen sculptures, of a boy and girl going to school hand in hand, were one set in a group of sculptures illustrating the daily lives of local people. The district government set up the life-size sculptures near a Metro station entrance at the intersection of Gonghexin Road and Guangzhong Road W. as part of its improvements to the city for next year's Expo.

But the primary students were sawn from their base less than a week after they had been installed.

Local sanitation workers found the sculptures in nearby Pengyuepu River about 9am yesterday when they were clearing the waterway.

The sculptures, weighing more than 100 kilograms, were hoisted out of the river about an hour later.

The left arm of the girl statue had been sawn off and there was a deep cut on her right arm at the elbow.

It wasn't the first time such thefts had occurred.

A statue of a young woman talking on a pay phone on Huaihai Road was targeted in 1998. It was cut into pieces by migrant ragpickers and sold as scrap in Jiangsu Province.

In 2004, two people involved were caught and sentenced to 12 and 10 years in jail, with the scrap dealer getting an 18-month sentence.

Last January the telephone of the statue's replacement was stolen for its copper content.

The Pudong New Area government has removed the sculpture "Overseas tourists visiting Shanghai" near the exit of Lujiazui Metro Station as an anti-theft measure.

The sculpture will not be re-installed before nearby road works are complete before the Expo, said Meng Yu, an official in charge of sculpture management for Pudong New Area Development and Reform Commission. "These artworks are usually stolen by migrant ragpickers who have no idea of their artistic value," Meng said.

"It's difficult to install monitoring camera and anti-theft alarms on the 2,000 outdoor sculptures in the city," said Xie Lin, director of the sculpture management office of the Shanghai Urban Planning, Land and Resources Administration Bureau.

Xie said artists should avoid using valuable metals in public sculptures and asked residents to be aware of the threat to public art and report any suspicions to the authorities.


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