No one knows (except the thief) who stole the wooden statue of a firefighter from high atop an 8-foot pole in front of the Tahoe Douglas Fire Protection District's Round Hill Station on Elk Point Road.
It was stolen in February but no one is sure when. They are sure, however, that they will get it back - sort of.
Sculptor Jerry Toste has volunteered to replace the 4-foot carving for free.
"I was hoping that it would show up by now and I was kind of bummed that it didn't, so I figured I should replace it," he said.
The statue of a stern fireman with a long mustache carrying a long-handled axe was originally carved by Toste, as was a similar statue at the Zephyr Cove station.
"The fact that he is willing to replace it for next to nothing is something for which we cannot express our gratitude nearly enough," Fire Chief Tim Smith said. The statue "is of no value or use to those who took it, but it means a lot to us."
Aaron Crawford of the Douglas County Sheriff's Office said the statue was probably stolen by kids and is probably sitting in a bedroom somewhere.
"We are still looking," he said. "We have been keeping an eye out and hoping it would pop up but obviously it hasn't."
"If we haven't found it by now, I guess we won't find it," said Smith, who called the brazen theft disheartening.
Toste, who made the statue at a considerable discount four years ago, said the new one will be identical. He hopes to have it finished by June.
"I feel bad that it got swiped so I am hoping to have time next month to get it done," he said.
Toste was surprised the thieves were able to remove the carving from the pole.
"They won't be able to unbolt it this time," he said. "They will have to rip the pole out of the ground."
People in the community, including the Boy Scouts, were trying to raise money to replace the statue.
"Having the Boy Scouts do it would be silly," said Toste. "I just hope whoever took it never needs a fireman. I am a firm believer in karma."