Meth fiends and other undesirables have been scouring the country for metal to steal and sell for scrap for years, but recent events suggest Oregon's addicts may have reached an all-time high: hacking apart irreplaceable works of art for what boils down to pennies in their pockets. In December, a couple carted off two bronze statues from the late Portland art lover Jean Vollum's estate. Less than a month later, the bronze figures of Sacagawea and her child were heisted from Fort Clatsop National Memorial Park near Astoria. In both cases, the remains of the works of art turned up at Oregon scrap-metal yards.
We'll point out an obvious opportunity to desperate—but not so bright—thieves.
There's a monumental treasure just waiting for your hacksaw, and it's been right under your nose all this time: Portlandia. Grab your wheelbarrow, because a mother lode in copper can be yours. You'll get at least a whole dollar a pound from the scrap yard!
Portlandia, our city's graceful lady, is the country's second-largest copper sculpture, weighing in at 13,000 pounds behind the mammoth 450,000-pound Statue of Liberty.
"The trident alone weighs about a thousand pounds," says Raymond Kaskey, the sculptor who worked for almost three years to build the 36-foot-tall lady back in 1985. Kaskey recalled that it took two tries to put the giant pitchfork in place using chain hoists and an overhead crane.
Brian Schmautz, Portland Police public information officer, says that metal thieves are becoming more creative. "Crooks are always thinking of other ways to rip things off," he says. "Anything that is metal is likely to be stolen." The likelihood that Portlandia might be so mutilated? "It would take a hell of a lot of effort," Kaskey says.
And if they did, would he be able to replace her? "I would never attempt something like that now. I'm just too old—it would probably kill me. It practically did the first time. I'd probably get tendonitis, tennis elbow, carpal tunnel or all three," says the 64-year-old sculptor.
Let's hope the blowtorches stay at home.
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