SANDY — Police are looking for answers after thieves made off with nine life-size bronze sculptures valued at $70,000 over Thanksgiving weekend.

Dan Hill, who operates Hill Gallery & Sculpture Park, said he believes the pieces were stolen by someone intending to chop the sculptures up in order to sell the bronze to metal recyclers.

The gallery inside the Canyon Ridge Center, 9045 S. 1300 East, houses work done by Hill's father, mostly depicting young children.

Sandy Police Sgt. Jon Arnold said officers are contacting recyclers about the theft.

"Metal prices are up, and we've seen a lot of copper theft throughout the valley," Arnold said. "Sometimes with the economy the way it is, this is a way for people to make money, whether it's to turn around and buy drugs or just to maintain their homes."

There is no surveillance video of the theft, meaning police are relying on recyclers to be vigilant about the metal coming in to them, Arnold said.

Hill said it appears the thieves cut the chain securing the gate, as well as locks on some of the individual statues. Other statues were ripped from the sandstone bases that held them.

The statues weigh up to 100 pounds each and are about the size of a 5-year-old child, Hill said, meaning removing them was more complicated than simply picking them up and tossing them in the back of a car.

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"I was shocked," he said. "It takes a lot of effort to move and transport nine sculptures, and someone had to have planned this out."

Following a similar theft three years ago, Hill said he called area metal recyclers and located a few chopped-up pieces of the missing sculpture at a North Salt Lake facility. Hill said the company had purchased the pieces in order to gain the seller's information for police, which eventually led to the suspect's arrest.

Anyone with information about the missing sculptures can contact Sandy police at 801-568-7232.

Contributing: Sandra Yi

— McKenzie Romero