'Now the statue is famous,' sculptor relieved stolen $125K piece returned to owner

Joseph Smith, Brigham Young found when public tips alert police to stolen statue (Photo: Courtesy Michelle Wilson)

(KUTV) – When sculptor Lena Toritch heard that her 800 pound sculpture had been swiped from the owner in Salt Lake City Tuesday morning, her first thought was, "Why?"

“They just don’t understand what they’re doing,” Toritch said about the thieves.

The sculpture is worth around $125,000, melted down to it’s metal core, it may be worth a few thousand.

“That was my worst nightmare,” Toritch said.

The caper of the stolen statue began Tuesday morning when four people showed up around 4 a.m. to a business where sculpture’s owner, Ben Rogers, was temporarily keeping the piece behind a wall.

Surveillance video shows the thieves load the sculpture of Mormon prophets Joseph Smith and Brigham Young onto a trailer and drive away.

“I was just in shock, not even angry, I couldn’t imagine how somebody could do that,” Toritch said.

Detectives got tips from news viewers who reported seeing the statue at a home in West Jordan. A person in the home let the officers in the garage, where they located the statue on its back.

Police questioned one of the suspects, William Ford, 47, and he admitted to helping take the statue, according to a probable cause statement. Detectives are still trying to locate the other three people who were seen in the video. http://kutv.com/news/local/a-statue-of-joseph-smith-and-brigham-young-stolen-in-slc-this-morning

Toritch and her business partner Richard Young spent approximately a year to make the sculpture.

They now hope the piece will be bolted down in a permanent home where people can take pictures with it, just like the detectives.

“Now the statue is famous, everybody would like to see it,” Toritch “After months and months of working on it, this is part of you, and when you work, you leave part of your heart and soul in it.”

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