Visalia men accused of stealing bronze statue

September 10, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Two South Valley men are under arrest, accused of stealing a bronze statue from a special needs sports facility.

40-year-old Jason Kaloustian and 41-year-old Richard Morrison are in jail after investigators say both men stole the statue from the Miracle League of Visalia baseball field for its metal value.

It's a special field for special players, but it's without one of its most popular statues.

Investigators say the suspects who made off with a bronze sculpture worth more than $4 thousand have been caught thanks to an anonymous tip.

The baseball field at the Miracle League of Visalia is without one of it's bronze statues after it went missing August 31. Police say two thieves made off with this bronze statue of three kids dressed in baseball uniforms.

"We were there for a board meeting, sitting in the bleachers, and we all looked up and go, 'where did the statue go?'" Gary Geiger of Miracle League of Visalia said.

Geiger founded the Miracle League of Visalia almost a decade ago as a place where disabled kids and adults with a passion for baseball could play and not feel different, but the field is now without its most photographed statue.

"The fact that anybody would do it, not only is it a facility for special needs kids and adults, but it's on the grounds of a church," Geiger said.

Police say Jason Kaloustian and Richard Morrison stole the 4 foot tall sculpture weighting more than 100 pounds, then dismantled it and recycled it for monetary value. An anonymous tip led police to one of the suspect's homes.

"With that information, investigators were able to track down our two suspects and locate evidence that these two suspects were involved in that theft," Amy Watkins of the Visalia Police Department said.

Visalia police were only able to recover the marble base where the sculpture once stood.

"It's the principle of the whole thing. It's a baseball facility for little kids that not through any fault of their own, have these disabilities and these guys come out and steal," Geiger said.

And as word got out that the statue was missing, an anonymous donor stepped forward to replace the one that's brighten up the lives of so many kids.

Both suspects were booked at the Tulare County Jail on charges of grand theft and possession of stolen property.


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