SARASOTA COUNTY - Homeowners across the Bay area who are missing bronze lawn statues may not have to look any further than 40-year-old Jason McMahon of Bradenton.
McMahon, a local pool cleaner, is charged with stealing bird statues worth $8,500 from at least three homes on Siesta Key and Prestancia, according to the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office.
The Sarasota department has charged him with three Grand Theft charges, and the Manatee County Sheriff's Office is also pursuing similar charges for statue thefts in their county.
Authorities said he stole the statues to scrap them for cash, and he sold them for much less than they were worth.
"This is a prime example of the level of desperation that is driving local crime," said Sheriff Tom Knight.
"People addicted to prescription drugs will steal just about anything to fund their habit, and he was getting about $100 for each statue despite their actual value," he said.
The amount of statues recovered from officials outnumbers the reports of missing statues. So residents who have missing lawn ornaments or those who have out-of-town neighbors suffering the same loss are asked to report it to Criminal Investigation at (941) 861-4901.