Alleged bronze statue thief arrested after local scrap yards notified



ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - The man who deputies said stole six bronze statues from the Academy for Autism in Orange County has been arrested after a bulletin was distributed to local scrap yards.

The statues were stolen from a fountain at the school some time Thursday night or Friday morning.

School leaders said the statues were going to be a centerpiece to a children's garden, and they were stolen two weeks before dozens of children move into the new school.

"It's an insult, I think, to the community because this is a community school," said Zulma Rivas-Vetell, president of the Academy for Autism.

A photo of the bronze figures was distributed to scrap yards, which authorities said led to the arrest of Harrison Lewis.

According to investigators, an alert employee at Trademark Metal Recycling reported that Lewis showed up three times within four days to get rid of bronze.

When deputies questioned the 51-year-old, he claimed to have found the statues with a friend along Orange Avenue in south Orange County. But according to an arrest affidavit, that friend spotted the statues in Lewis' car on the way to the scrap yard.

"It hits home because, you know, everybody knows somebody nowadays who has Autism," said Rivas-Vetell. "It would have been great for them to see that as they first drove up that first day."

Deputies said Lewis got nearly $350 for the bronze statues, which the school valued at roughly $15,000.

He has been charged with grand theft and dealing in stolen property.

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