For as long as most people can recall, the massive garden urn had been sitting on a granite pedestal outside the Peabody Institute Library.
"It never dawned on anybody that it would be taken," Library Director Douglas Rendell said. "It was enormous. We used to joke, 'No one's going to walk away with that.'"
Until someone did.
Around the state, police are receiving reports of stolen metalwork, plumbing, gutters and even electrical wiring, which contains copper, which is then resold to scrap yards.
In 2008, two state workers were charged with stealing some 2,000 feet of decorative iron railing from Boston's historic Longfellow Bridge, valued at more than $500,000 and selling it to Minichiello Brothers for $12,147. The scrap yard also cooperated in that investigation — though the iron had already been melted down by the time the theft was discovered.