Town renews search for stolen Lincoln portrait
NORWICH, Conn. - Officials are renewing the search for whoever stole a large portrait of Abraham Lincoln from the entrance of City Hall about 15 years ago.
The picture has been missing since 1994, when someone cut it from its large Victorian frame and left with it in the middle of the night.
Norwich officials are considering offering a $1,500 reward for information about the theft, saying the painting is worth more than $10,000 and has immense civic value.
The renewed push for answers comes as the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth approaches on Feb. 12.
Aldermen are scheduled to vote today on a resolution that offers the reward and promotes the city's affection for Lincoln, who visited in March 1860 to help campaign for a Connecticut governor's reelection.
The painting is believed to have been made by John Denison Crocker, who lived in Norwich most of his life.
"It's important to get it back," said town historian Dale Plummer. "It's an important work of art by an important local artist. At the same time it celebrates and commemorates the city's association with Lincoln.
"The theft of the painting was really a crime against the present and future citizens of Norwich. That's what's so reprehensible about it," Plummer said.
Police Sergeant Patrick Daley was a patrolman at the time of the Lincoln portrait theft. The case was assigned to the detective division, but police came up empty with every lead.
About six months ago, Daley approached Officer Steven Lamantini. "He came to me and said, 'Let's start working again on the Lincoln caper,' " he said.
Part of the difficulty, authorities say, is that they could not find old pictures of the portrait. Now, however, police and city officials say the investigation may get a big boost because they recently learned that historian William Hosley had a copy and had digitized it along with many others in his collection.
Hosley, director of the New Haven Museum, said he had taken pictures from various trips to historical sites over the years and recently came across the Lincoln photo. He e-mailed it to Plummer. "The picture was so striking that I figured I better take a picture of the picture," he said.
The painting was probably done about 20 years after Lincoln died.