ALLEN — For years, a sculpture of a boy nicknamed "Tommy" has been an inspiration to thousands of North Texas children.
The statue was a gift to the Allen Public Library and was designed to encourage children to read. For seven years, the bronze statue of a child reading on a bench greeted arriving visitors outside of the library.
Before walking into the library Monday, Kiora Nield's children were among those who immediately noticed something was missing.
"They would always say, 'Hi,' so they noticed it was gone," she said.
The statue was stolen Thursday night.
"We were so saddened and shocked when we came out to find it was totally gone," said Tom Keener, with the Allen Public Library. "It was like all of our countless hours and tireless efforts had gone down the drain."
Book sales and donations covered the $2,500 cost of the public art piece.
"The minute we got it, it was just a hit with everybody," said Jane Bennett, with Library Friends.
Bennett was among those who contributed toward the raising of the money. She said some children had named the statue of the boy.
"We felt the statue encouraged childhood literacy," Keener said. "And it did because we would come out here, particularly in spring and fall, and children would be reading to the child, reading a book or sitting next to it like it was their buddy."
Police aren't sure how thieves were able to haul off the 2,500-pound statue. Officers fear it may have been scrapped for its metal.
"I think that's one of the hardest things when it comes to art or something like that; its not like you can go to Target and buy another one," Bennett said.
Those at the library say they hope those who stole the statue will return it to its rightful home. The library is offering a $100 reward for its return.