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Orem school's stolen statue returned thanks to efforts of ‘Officer Friendly’

Published: Sunday, Dec. 22 2013 7:01 p.m. MST

Orem police officer Randy Clement, also known as Officer Friendly, used an empty fish aquarium with a glass bottom to search for Bonneville Elementary's statue in the Provo River. After searching for 20 to 30 minutes, he found her. (Orem Police Department) Orem police officer Randy Clement, also known as Officer Friendly, used an empty fish aquarium with a glass bottom to search for Bonneville Elementary's statue in the Provo River. After searching for 20 to 30 minutes, he found her. (Orem Police Department)

OREM — A statue of a young girl and her horse stolen from Bonneville Elementary School at the beginning of the school year will soon be back where it belongs thanks to the relentless efforts of a police officer.

Students at the school had a Christmas sing-along before they left for winter break Friday, and a wrapped gift on a table during the assembly left a lot of them curious.

The gift was from Orem police officer Randy Clement, also known as "Officer Friendly," and it was something that is very dear to the hearts of everyone at Bonneville Elementary, whose mascot is the Broncos.

As a teacher read a story called “The Adventures of a Little Lady and Her Horse,” written by Clement, they learned their surprise had been through quite an ordeal, beginning with the day it was stolen from the school.

“Since Aug. 27, having that empty pedestal has been a reminder of the sadness it has brought our students,” Bonneville Elementary Principal Shawn Brooks said.

Orem police officer Randy Clement stands in front of the Little Lady and Her Horse statue that was stolen from Bonneville Elementary School at the end of August. After months of investigation, Clement found the statue. On Friday, Dec. 20, 2013, during an assembly, he returned the statue to the school. (Sam Penrod, Deseret News) Orem police officer Randy Clement stands in front of the Little Lady and Her Horse statue that was stolen from Bonneville Elementary School at the end of August. After months of investigation, Clement found the statue. On Friday, Dec. 20, 2013, during an assembly, he returned the statue to the school. (Sam Penrod, Deseret News)

According to the story, when the thieves learned Clement was closing in, they buried the statue. One of them got nervous and dug it up and threw it in the Provo River. Later, he decided it might be found there, so he dumped it in the snow in the foothills above Provo before finally confessing to police Thursday.

“That same day, the young man took officers to the location where he had thrown the bronze horse and retrieved it once again,” Clement wrote.

But something was missing from the statue. The young girl riding the horse had broken off when the statue was thrown into the river. So Clement borrowed some hip waders and started looking in the murky water.

"A lot of times you think this isn't that big of a deal, but to these kids this is their school and their statue,” Clement said. “Man, I didn't think I was going to find the little girl, and when I did, boy was I elated.”

Orem police officer Randy Clement, also known as Officer Friendly, used an empty fish aquarium with a glass bottom to search for Bonneville Elementary's statue in the Provo River. The tank allowed him to search beneath the surface of the murky water. After searching for 20 to 30 minutes, he found the statue. (Orem Police Department) Orem police officer Randy Clement, also known as Officer Friendly, used an empty fish aquarium with a glass bottom to search for Bonneville Elementary's statue in the Provo River. The tank allowed him to search beneath the surface of the murky water. After searching for 20 to 30 minutes, he found the statue. (Orem Police Department)

Students and teachers were also very happy to see their cherished statue.

"Some people look for miracles at Christmas, and we have one here at Bonneville,” Brooks said. “We're just so excited to have our statue back. Thank you, officer Clement.”

As for the teens who took the statue, they've haven't been arrested but three of them will face charges of trespassing. The teen who stole the statue also faces charges of vandalism and theft.

Metal Arts Foundry in Lehi has offered to reattach the girl to her horse and repair the damage to the statue free of charge.

"Once the little lady and her horse are repaired and polished, they will return to their place of honor at Bonneville Elementary where she can be with the children who love her," Clement wrote. "The End.”

Orem police officer Randy Clement, also known as Officer Friendly, used an empty fish aquarium with a glass bottom to search for Bonneville Elementary's statue in the Provo River. The tank allowed him to search beneath the surface of the murky water. After searching for 20 to 30 minutes, he found the statue. (Orem Police Department) Orem police officer Randy Clement, also known as Officer Friendly, used an empty fish aquarium with a glass bottom to search for Bonneville Elementary's statue in the Provo River. The tank allowed him to search beneath the surface of the murky water. After searching for 20 to 30 minutes, he found the statue. (Orem Police Department)

Email: spenrod@deseretnews.com

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