• U.S.

Nation: Weather Vane Caper

2 minute read

In New England, an age of specialization has produced some thieves in a recondite line of work. They steal antique weather vanes and even those that merely look antique. In the past three years, about 100 vanes have disappeared, many of them the elaborate work of 18th and 19th century coppersmiths. The vanes can sell for hundreds of dollars.

Sometimes the thieves’ ingenuity has been almost as quaint as their plunder. It has been reported that in several cases they hired helicopters to pluck their booty from the roofs of houses and barns. Robert Eldred of Dennis, Mass., returned from a trip to find that his square-rigger ship vane had vanished. Six months later, it was traced with the help of an antique dealer to a banker’s house in Florida. Eldred flew to Florida and, taking two extra seats in the plane, returned home with his antique. Before Eldred had time to remount the weather vane, a man appeared at his door offering a handsome clipper ship model to replace what he thought was Eldred’s missing square-rigger. Police arrested the salesman for having stolen Eldred’s original vane. There remained the perversely comforting knowledge that in an era of car thieves and purse snatchers, a genuine, if criminal passion for authentic folk art is flourishing.

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