The mystery of a missing eagle statue that disappeared from the Waring Volunteer Fire Department has been solved.
On Tuesday the Kendall County Sheriff's office returned the 300 pound cast iron statue to its rightful owners, just over two months after it was snatched by thieves.
"There was a lot of sentimental value to the eagle for the citizens of Waring so we put a lot of resources into this case," said Lt. Shad Prichard of the Kendall County Sheriff's Office.
Originally on display at the town's hardware store, the eagle and another one just like it were advertisements for dealers of Case farm machinery. Residents said the eagles had been on display in the small town since the 1930's.
In 1978, Richard Saur founded the Waring VFD. At the time one of the eagles was mounted on a pedestal outside the Waring General Store so he deiced to make the eagle the department's mascot.
"It's the fire department logo," Saur said. "We've had it on our shirts and our caps and every other place."
The two eagle statues were mounted on a rock bluff outside the Waring VFD in 2001. They were mounted in cement and secured to the rocks with long stainless steel bolts.
"We put allot of effort into the physical security of it originally and we said, 'This will take so much work nobody will ever bother them.' Well, we were wrong," said Fire Chief Joe Paolilli.
In late May someone used a blow torch and cutting tools to remove one of the eagle's from its perch. The thieves also tried to take the other eagle statue but appeared to have given up.
"We were kind of beginning to wonder if we were ever going to get it back," said Evelyn Saur, a Waring resident. "We were hearing nothing except people saying, 'Have you heard anything?'"
A break in the case came over the weekend when another law enforcement agency contacted Kendall County investigators. They said they got a tip about the statue's location near Fredricksburg.
"It was in a big field with some brush covering the top of it and when we got there, there it was," Prichard said.
The statue has been returned to Waring where it will now be refurbished and eventually remounted at the fire department.
Prichard said they have a suspect in the case and he expects to make an arrest in the near future.
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