‘I just want them home’: Family heirloom sculptures stolen from Olathe house

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OLATHE, Kan. -- Two precious family heirlooms have been stolen from an Olathe property. It's salt in the wounds for the homeowner, who has been through a lot the past couple years.

A house in Olathe's Cedar Creek neighborhood was hit by lightning in June 2018, ravaging the house and nearly everything in it.

"It was determined the best way to move forward was to actually bulldoze the house down and start over," homeowner Erica Hoover said.

The fire came at an especially tough time for Hoover. The year before, her dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and her mom died unexpectedly.

"It's been a lot. A big toll on our family," Hoover said.

When her mom passed, she inherited a set of stone sculptures. Her mom took her to meet the local artist when she was a kid and they both fell in love with the unique faces.

"It's just something I'll never forget," Hoover said.

Erica rebuilt her home over the past year and just recently moved back in. Landscaping and finishing work is ongoing.

This week, when she went to walk her dog, she noticed part of the temporary fence around her house had been cut, and two of her treasured stone sculptures were gone.

"Panic set in that someone would take something so meaningful to me," Hoover said.

The statues are about 3 feet tall and weigh roughly 100 pounds, so stealing them was no easy task. Erica's dear friend Vanessa Harrison-Smith shared photos of the stolen art online, hoping for answers.

"Erica is such a strong person and this is just, they're so important to her and even just reaching out to ask for help for something like this is big for her and just please return," Harrison-Smith said.

The artist who crafted the stonework has died. That, combined with the sentimental attachment, make the pieces irreplaceable.

"I just want them home, and that's really what I'm looking for. And offer a cash reward if someone can find them and safely return them. That's what I really want," Hoover said.

Olathe police are investigating the theft. But Hoover said if the sculptures are returned unharmed, she won't press charges.

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