Thursday, December 14, 2017
News Roundup

Concrete statue thieves leave business struggling

ST. PETERSBURG — One of the most treasured statues in the work yard was a small elephant. It was a memorial to a little leukemia victim.

It's gone. So are dozens of others.

For about 14 years, Jerry and Pat Karlik have produced birds, butterflies and Bacchuses. They've made pieces for Disney's All-Star Resort, Mazzaro's Italian Market in St. Petersburg and an Inuit community near the Arctic Circle.

Now their business is in trouble. Thieves have badly depleted the inventory of statues, lawn ornaments and fountains at Florida Statuary & Molds, 2858 Fifth Ave. S.

"We enjoy what we do," said Pat Karlik, 65, who owns the shop with her husband. "It's just getting almost impossible to do business here. You just can't make any money. And once you do, they steal everything."

The storage yard, once filled with handheld visages of Michelangelo's David and life-sized images of Jesus with outstretched arms, now is filled mostly with dirt and the remaining statues — some cracked and unusable.

Jerry Karlik, 67, paced across his yard Wednesday as the smell of cement dust hit his nose.

"I have to see if there's anything left," he said.

They took the David but left the Jesus.

Maybe the statue thieves feared divine retribution. Or maybe it was just too heavy.

His father spent much of his career working on sculptures that adorned buildings. Karlik retired from his job as a Clearwater Police patrol officer in 1997 and started the business to get back to his roots.

Karlik thought his days of dealing with crime were over, but his shop has been robbed four times over the last two weeks.

They took everything from cup-sized bird statues to planters to a specially made lion plaque. He and his wife estimate thieves got away with 30 to 40 pieces. That's about $2,000 wholesale.

"It's just the two of us," his wife said. "We try so hard to keep the doors open, and the harder you work, the more they take."

St. Petersburg police are investigating.

"We don't see things like this very often," said police spokesman Mike Puetz. "These are basically lawn ornaments, and that's not usually the sort of thing criminals are into."

Karlik pointed to a drooping section of the barbed wire, with pieces of fabric clinging to the sharp spikes.

Possibly, the thieves flung a blanket over the fence, climbed over and handed the statues over, he said. With no guard dogs and no security cameras to see them, the Karliks didn't know anything had happened until they got to work.

This isn't the first time Karliks' business has been robbed. A few years ago, two 175-pound statues of lounging children were taken. They turned up later in front of an abandoned crack house, painted brown with pink lips and fingernails.

The business used to have a dozen employees, but Pat Karlick said the recession hit them hard. Now, it's just the two of them.

She said they both love the business and can't sit still in retirement, but the stress of these thefts is taking its toll.

"You just want to sit down and cry," she said. "You don't know what else to do."

Contact Meredith Rutland at [email protected] or (727) 893-8804.

 
Comments
NFL Power Rankings, Week 15: Carson Wentz's injury drops Eagles out of top five

NFL Power Rankings, Week 15: Carson Wentz's injury drops Eagles out of top five

What follows below is a ranking of all 32 NFL teams. To build this list, we consulted five objective measures of team strength: Pro Football Reference’s Simple Rating System, Football Outsiders’ Defense-adjusted Value Over Average ratings...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Dade City man turns himself in on warrants for Polk armed robbery

Dade City man turns himself in on warrants for Polk armed robbery

DADE CITY — A 25-year-old man wanted in connection with the attempted robbery of a taxi driver in Lakeland turned himself in late Wednesday night after being prompted by his mother, according to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.Edner Dely, was wante...
Updated: 8 minutes ago

Pinellas judge: U.S. Army major found incompetent to stand trial can leave Florida

Izzo was released on $1.5 million bail in August 2014 while he awaited his trial for the murder of his wife’s ex-husband. He suffered severe head injuries after a motorcycle crash in 2015.In January, circuit judge Chris Helinger found him incompetent...
Updated: 9 minutes ago
Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

For once, it would be nice to see Sen. Marco Rubio stand up as the independent leader he aspires to become. For once, the Florida Republican should hold his position rather than bow to pragmatic politics. Rubio can stick with his threat Thursday to v...
Updated: 10 minutes ago
Soccer store opens on Gunn Highway, just in time for the World Cup

Soccer store opens on Gunn Highway, just in time for the World Cup

Even though the United States Men’s soccer team didn’t qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, that hasn’t diminished local fans’ excitement about the upcoming international event.Ariel Martinez, owner of Best Buy Soccer and Lacrosse, has already receiv...
Updated: 29 minutes ago
Pack your bags: 107.3M Americans to set holiday traveling record

Pack your bags: 107.3M Americans to set holiday traveling record

A record-breaking number of Americans are expected to travel this holiday season.The American Automobile Association projects that 107.3 million Americans will pack their bags and travel more than 50 miles by planes, trains, automobiles and other mod...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Column: An important thing you probably knew nothing about — tax-exempt Private Activity Bonds

Only tax attorneys and God fully comprehend the federal tax code that has governed private activity bonds since 1968.But most of us can understand results.Such tax-exempt bonds over the years have literally saved millions of dollars in borrowing cost...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Horrified friends watch screaming woman driven to her death in Plant City

Horrified friends watch screaming woman driven to her death in Plant City

PLANT CITY — Jonathon Adams heard a scream, "like a dog getting run over by a car," then saw a mini-van come tearing around the corner with a woman he knew dangling out of the passenger side.It was the start of a deadly sequence of events Dec. 8 that...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Tampa chamber names first companies for minority business accelerator

Tampa chamber names first companies for minority business accelerator

TAMPA — Four firms in marketing, construction and secure cash logistics will be the first to go to through a new Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce program designed to help black- and Hispanic-owned companies grow their businesses through two years of...
Updated: 1 hour ago
William March: AG candidate Ashley Moody called ‘liberal;’ bill takes Orlando money for Tampa transit

William March: AG candidate Ashley Moody called ‘liberal;’ bill takes Orlando money for Tampa transit

Ideological divides in Florida’s Republican attorney general primary race are producing some early negative campaigning, with a strong Tampa Bay area flavor.State Rep. Jay Fant, R-Jacksonville, one of four candidates, has attacked the early frontrunn...
Updated: 1 hour ago