Despite added protections, WCA butterfly stolen again late Monday

kmoeller@idahostatesman.comNovember 12, 2013 

EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this story said the butterfly was welded to the sculpture, but it was not. The artist used JB Weld, an epoxy.

They added an extra bolt, and put on a strong epoxy to prevent it from being broken off.

But those added security measures weren't enough to prevent a late-night passerby from stealing the stained glass butterfly from the bronze sculpture outside the Women's and Children's Alliance in Boise late Monday night.

The butterfly was stolen twice last year, and a new one was dedicated in October Link to "New Wings for the Women's and Children's Alliance". A second security camera was added to ensure that if someone did mess with the sculpture, the nonprofit would be able to help police find the culprit.

 Slideshow of artist Valerie Pierce preparing sculpture for October dedication.

The sculpture has sentimental value for the WCA staff and those they help. It was dedicated at the shelter's 100th anniversary in 2011.

The camera footage shows that the butterfly was stolen at 10:03 p.m., said Chris Campbell, a spokeswoman for the WCA. (An earlier version of this story said 11:03 p.m., but that was determined to be incorrect due to an erroneous time stamp on the video).

Campbell said it appears from the video that three young males were walking down 8th Street around 11 p.m., and one of them approached the sculpture and hit butterfly with the palm of his hand.

"He jumped up and hit it three times," Campbell said. He walked away, then came back again and was eventually able to dislodge it.

Campbell said it appeared to be a crime of opportunity, not pre-planned. She said staff searched the area in the hopes that the guy who stole the butterfly might have tossed in bushes or a garbage can.

"We are absolutely stunned and somewhat emotional. You feel violated," Campbell said. "It's so personal. It's hurtful."

WCA officials are optimistic that police will be able to find the thief, who was described as having a beard, a backward baseball cap and a tattoo on his shin. Motion detector lights went off when the trio passed.

The butterfly is valued at $2,500.

"We're certainly hopeful that it will be returned," Campbell said. "At this point, we intend to prosecute to the full extent of the law. This is a felony."

Images from the security cameras will be released soon. Check back later for an update.

Katy Moeller: 377-6413

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