Ronald McDonald statue taken from home for ailing children
BURLINGTON, Vt. -- A life-size statue of Ronald McDonald was stolen from a home for families of sick children, pried loose from a bench in an apparent prank.
The 4-foot-tall, red-and-yellow plastic resin figurine, which was bolted to a bench outside a Ronald McDonald House, was a favorite of children and families before it turned up missing Tuesday.
"It's despicable; it really is," said Pamela Fenimore, executive director of the Ronald McDonald House. "It goes beyond being funny. It really isn't funny when you consider the kids and the families that get enjoyment out of it."
The nine-bedroom house serves children and families from upstate New York and Vermont who come to Burlington for medical treatment. It's one of 270 in 30 countries worldwide.
The statue was vandalized last week by an unknown person who apparently tried to cut off its head.
The damage was discovered Friday, but it was unclear whether it was done by the same person or people who managed to undo the four bolts that held it in place and make off with it sometime Monday night, leaving behind a small brass plaque that reads: "Always here for a hug. Love, Ronald."
"This was thought through," Fenimore said. "It's no spur-of-the-moment, let's-take-him-away kind of thing."
Police Lieutenant William Ward said he believes the statue didn't go far in Burlington, a lively university town with three colleges and a vibrant nightlife scene that is no stranger to pranks.
Someone, somewhere knows something about it, Ward said.
"People see someone walking down the street with a Ronald McDonald in their hands, and they figure there's probably a [legitimate] reason for it," he said.
Whoever is responsible could face felony charges, Ward said.