Women’s and Children’s Alliance butterfly flutters off unwillingly — again

With Boise police on the lookout for a bearded thief, the shelter says it will replace the sculpture piece quickly.

kmoeller@idahostatesman.comNovember 13, 2013 

  • GOT INFORMATION?

    Know anything about the missing butterfly or have a lead on who took it? Call Crime Stoppers, 343-2677, go online to www.343cops.com, or text CRIMES (274637), subject: Tip236.

Word that the Women’s and Children’s Alliance butterfly had been stolen was a blow to the gut for Valerie Pierce, who finished a second stained-glass butterfly this fall after recovering from a near-fatal crash.

The Kuna artist said she shook it off Tuesday, then got to work. She’s making two copies of the butterfly, which rests in an outstretched hand of a woman in the sculpture.

Yes, two more.

The new butterflies will be made of steel, rather than bronze, because she can make them much faster.

“I just want to get something in her hand,” said Pierce, who is in the process of preparing for a trip abroad. “I’m not going to leave her empty-handed.”

Pierce said she’ll make as many butterflies as needed.

“Do you roll over and give up? No,” she said. “Do you stop covering graffiti? No.”

The butterfly — valued at about $2,500 — was part of a sculpture called “Taking Flight,” dedicated at the Boise shelter’s 100th anniversary in 2011. It has great sentimental value for shelter staff and the victims of domestic violence they assist.

“We are absolutely stunned and somewhat emotional. You feel violated,” said WCA spokeswoman Chris Campbell. “It’s so personal. It’s hurtful.”

Security camera footage captured the theft at about 10:03 p.m. Monday. It shows a bearded man wearing shorts and a backward baseball hat striking the butterfly several times with his hand. He breaks it off, then leaves the area on foot with two other men.

It’s the third time since spring 2012 that the butterfly has been stolen. The first time it was returned. The butterfly didn’t turn up after the second theft.

Pierce’s new bronze butterfly was dedicated Oct. 4. A new security camera and motion lights were added to deter would-be thieves and vandals.

Pierce attached the butterfly with a second high-grade steel bolt with Loctite superglue, to ensure they could not be unscrewed. To strengthen the bond of the butterfly to the sculpture, she used J-B Weld epoxy. Pierce did not weld the butterfly to the sculpture.

The steel butterflies will be a temporary solution. A bronze butterfly will be welded to the sculpture later, Pierce said.

The WCA’s Campbell believes that the most recent theft was a crime of opportunity. Pierce sees it as malicious.

“With all the coverage it had, this wasn’t random,” Pierce said. “It’s not teenagers. These are adults. There’s motive behind it. I really think it’s against the center, I really do.”

Anyone with information about the missing butterfly is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 343-2677, go online to www.343cops.com, or text CRIMES (274637), subject: Tip236.

Katy Moeller: 377-6413

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