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Historic Virgin Mary statue rescued from suspected thieves in Sonoma

A wooden statue of the Virgin Mary has been rescued from thieves by Sonoma County authorities, a state parks spokesman said Friday.

The 18-inch tall statue was snatched from the altar at Mission San Francisco Solano in Sonoma, said Dave Matthews, the department's public safety coordinator.

A cleaning crew reported it missing in November. There were no witnesses, suspects or clues, Matthews said.

It remained gone until this week, when investigators from the District Attorney's Office got a tip on its whereabouts while working on an unrelated case.

Warrants were served and the purloined Madonna was found at an undisclosed location in Sonoma Valley, Matthews said.

He said it was estimated at between 50 and 100 years old and worth about $1,600. Prosecutors are considering criminal charges, said Brian Davis, chief district attorney investigator.

Matthews said a motive for the theft is unknown.

"It sounds like a knucklehead was pulling a fast one," Matthews said. "He did it for kicks."


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