Gallery Thefts Net Sculptures in California

Police are still searching for those responsible for stealing valuable art from at least two Carmel galleries during the last three months.

The last theft was of an acrylic sculpture worth an estimated $5,000 on Nov. 18, taken during an early morning smash-and-grab burglary at the Simic Galleries near San Carlos Street and 6th Avenue.

The 14-1/2 inch lucite (acrylic) sculpture called the "Mask of Icaras" was the fourth such theft at that art gallery within the past year and a half, according to the gallery's director, Judith Rathbun.

"We got hit three times in 2004," she said. "Two times in the main gallery and once in a viewing area. This is the fourth time."

Another theft of a similar piece occurred during an art exhibition at the nearby Hanson Art gallery earlier in the year.

Police are looking into the possibility that the thefts are connected.

"There are some out there who find these acrylic statues desirable," said Carmel police Sgt. Mel Mukai. "It's a popular item in some circles."

Mukai said that in the past the department has recovered other stolen pieces of art as far away as Beverly Hills.

Rathbun said that the latest piece is called a lucite sculpture within the art community.

The statue is made of bronze with a gold patina and has a marble base. Rathbun said that in view of the recent burglaries, all Carmel business owners should add extra security.

There were no witnesses to the Simic art theft.

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