H-SAN LUIS OBISPO

Dec 19, 2013 2:18 AM by Connie Tran, KSBY News

Decades old family heirloom swiped from man's front yard

A local man's family heirloom is stolen from his front yard, and on Wednesday he asked for the community's help in finding it.

Ron Ricioli lives in San Luis Obispo and said his concrete deer statue was taken from his front yard either Monday night or early Tuesday morning. Normally two deer dress the front of Ricioli's front yard, but now only one is left standing.

"When I came home, one of these boarder boards was sticking out in the cement, and that was when I looked, and saw it was gone and I mean, my heart just fell through my feet," said Ricioli.

The deer aren't just outdoor decorations for Ricioli. They are family heirlooms. He said his grandmother, Louise Beck, was an artist from Oceano, and she made them exclusively for her family.

He said Beck made the concrete deer with her bare hands more than 80 years ago.

He said, "They are pieces of rebar, with chicken screen, and then hand formed, all hand formed like she used a paint brush to make it look like hair."

Ricioli said no one can put a price on the statues.

"Every time I look at those deer, I think of my grandmother, and all the wonderful special times that we had. And as I said, that's really why it's so upsetting," said Ricioli.

Ricioli said the statues weigh about 300 pounds, and he believes between 3 or 4 guys were capable of hauling it away.

The stolen deer was not bolted to the ground in any way, but the San Luis Obispo Police Department said the theft is still a crime. Police officials said the suspects in this case could face a charge of grand theft.

Ricioli said on Wednesday, he is just hoping for a safe return of his deer for Christmas.

"Christmas miracle, very good. I'm hoping, with maybe the general public out there keeping an eye," said Ricioli.

Ricioli said he's had two deer out on display in his front yard for 36 years, and has had no issues with theft. In 2010, someone did vandalize the deer. Ricioli said someone broke the antlers off the deer, and that alone, broke his heart.

He said now he plans on installing a surveillance camera and stepping up his security.

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