‘Bait’ nail appears to replace missing Healdsburg hammer

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A jokester drove a large metal nail etched with the word “bait” into the ground near the Healdsburg Community Center, where a massive hammer vanished two weeks ago.

Healdsburg officials don’t know who created or installed the roughly 3-foot nail on the front lawn of the community center, which had on temporary display the 800-pound hammer sculpture until its disappearance earlier this month under similarly mysterious circumstances.

The nail appeared to have been place on the lawn over the weekend, said Rhea Borja, a city spokeswoman.

Darryl Erkel, the Healdsburg police officer investigating the hammer theft, said he was not aware of the nail until a reporter Monday morning called him about its appearance.

“I would suspect it would be something along the lines of a prank,” he said.

Erkel said police have no leads on the hammer. He said officers checked local recycling centers, alerting workers to be on the lookout for the sculpture, which is made from mixed metals and features a handle made from a redwood tree.

The ball-peen hammer measures 21 feet long, while the metal head is 6 feet tall.

Doug Unkrey, the artist who created the hammer, also said he didn’t know anything about the nail, though he was amused by it— and the fact that somebody would go through the trouble to steal the hammer.

The uninsured sculpture was estimated to be worth $15,000.

Judy Voigt, founder of the Voigt Family Sculpture Foundation, which sponsored the hammer’s temporary exhibition, said a $1,000 reward is still being offered for information leading to the hammer’s recovery.

Voigt said she, too, was in the dark about the mysterious nail.

“I love it,” she said, “but I had no knowledge.”

You can reach Staff Writer Will Schmitt at 707-521-5207 or will.schmitt@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @wsreports.

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