Several pieces of bronze art were stolen from the Ratner Museum in Bethesda, Md. It is the latest in a series of thefts of bronze from local establishments.
Five large bronze sculptures were taken from the outside garden area between Friday night and late Sunday morning, police said. The museum estimates the value lost and damaged at $90,000.
Investigators said only one piece appears to have been removed without damage.
Police said they believe the thief may try to salvage or recycle the pieces.
The sculptures, which weigh about 40 pounds apiece, told stories from the Bible and had decorated the front of the Dennis and Phillip Ratner Museum since it opened 11 years ago, NBC Washington's Chris Gordon reported.
"I knew they had stolen them for scrap metal," said the sculptor, Phillip Ratner. "If they wanted them as art, they could have taken them by their base, but they broke them off instead."
Ratner is removing the bronze bases that remain.
Montgomery County police are reaching out to "art dealers and scrap yards trying to get them back," Cpl. Dan Frizs said.
If you have any information you are asked to call 301-652-9200. Or you can leave an anonymous tip at 1-866-411-8477. Crime Solvers may pay a cash reward of up to $1,000 for information that leads to an arrest and/or indictment of the suspect in this crime.
Ratner, whose pieces are on display at the Statue of Liberty, the U.S. Supreme Court and the National Zoo, said he will design new sculptures to display outside the museum, but he will use steel instead of bronze.
Published at 11:41 AM EST on Jan 18, 2011 | Updated at 5:25 PM EST on Jan 20, 2011