A bird-brained bandit stole a metal sculpture of a heron from a Park Slope family’s garden — and now there’s a 7-year-old sleuth trying to crack the case with the help of her mom.
The mystery began when 13th Street resident Amy Yang returned home on the afternoon of June 7 and spotted a trail of sand leading from her yard to the sidewalk.
“I didn’t think anything of it; I thought my son had been playing,” she said.
That is until Yang discovered a rusty thigh-high statue of a bird — a one-of-a-kind lawn ornament made of found objects she bought at a yard sale in Maine eight years ago — had vanished from its perch.
Yang was stunned by the disappearance of her pointy-beaked friend when a neighbor said she had spotted a man who looked like a construction worker in his 30s lugging the sculpture down the street at around noon.
That’s when Yang, her son Mars, and her daughter Luna sprang into action.
The family penned a sign dubbing the bandit “The Birdlar” and asked for the statue’s safe return.
“Dear Birdlar, you stole our bird sculpture,” reads the message, which hangs from their gate near Seventh Avenue. “Please return it!”
In hopes of bringing the bird back to its rightful home, Luna, 7, scanned the scene of the crime and discovered a crucial clue with some help from her brother.
“We found a footprint with squares on it,” said the young crime fighter, whose middle name actually is Danger (editor’s note: this is a fact, not a rhetorical device). “I think it was size eleven.”
The motive behind the heist remains unclear — it could be a prank or perhaps an attempt to resell the bird for scrap metal, said Yang.
Either way, she has chosen not to file a police report, claiming the $100 statue simply has sentimental value.
Yang and her children aren’t the only people who miss the bird. Plenty of parents and students from PS107, which is about a block away, have enjoyed catching a glimpse of the winged artwork, which stood perched next to a cactus in the yard, for years.
Now she says she simply wants it back — no questions asked.
“He looked so cool sitting there,” she said. “It’s kind of a mystery.”
The bird-napping comes after a thief swiped a different piece of quirky neighborhood art — a bunch of “tree sweaters” specially knitted for arbors by a Park Slope artist.
Reach reporter Natalie O'Neill at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling her at (718) 260-4505.