SEATTLE (Scrap Monster): The courthouse square sits in the heart of Conroe as a quaint throwback to simpler times, the central fixture in a small historic district where new businesses occupy old buildings and local theater companies stage plays in renovated movie houses.
So what happened there Thanksgiving week struck some people as especially bothersome.
"I was heartbroken, completely heartbroken over it," said Terri Jaggers, the president of Montgomery County's Child Protective Services.
Sometime overnight, in a crime discovered Wednesday morning, someone broke away from their pedestals two of the four bronze statues of children sitting in front of the Montgomery County Courthouse. One of the statues, nicknamed "A.J.," was stolen while the other, nicknamed "T.J.," was vandalized and left behind.
"Which was heartbreaking, because it's not about the statues, it's about the fact that somebody would actually find some sense of profit or joy in destroying something that means so much to this community," Jaggers said.
The statues were relatively new, dedicated just last April. Jaggers, who led the effort to acquire and install the statues, was so upset her eyes welled with tears as she talked about the crime.
"This means a lot to me, because my husband and I have raised 25 foster kids," Jaggers said. "We've also adopted five kids. This is not just a statue, These represent children."
Curiously enough, both of the statues the thieves struck were sculptures of boys while two girls' statues were apparently undisturbed. The motive isn't clear, but small statues around Montgomery County have occasionally been targeted by what appeared to be scrap metal thieves.
"It's very frustrating, to say the least," said Craig Doyal, a Montgomery Co. Commissioner who was just elected county judge. "You know, the value of the statues themselves is not to be dismissed, but the value of what they represent is what's really the frustrating part to me."
The statue pedestals were bolted into buried concrete, so whoever busted the figures away at their feet couldn't have done it quickly. Even in the overnight hours, Doyal said, drivers pass by the courthouse and homeless people hang out in the area. So he hopes someone who saw something will call the Conroe Police Department at 936-522-3200, the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office at 936-760-5800 or Montgomery County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-392-STOP (7867),
The timing of the crime was ironic.
"You know, November is National Adoption Month," Doyal said. "Just last week, there were eighteen adoptions that I attended in this courthouse."