Vandals destroy expensive sculpture in downtown O.S.

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Vandals destroyed a valuable piece of artwork in downtown Ocean Springs. The shattered sculpture was discovered over the weekend. It was installed two years ago as a gift to the city. It wasn't the first time a sculpture on city property was vandalized.

Three cast-glass sculptures once adorned the Ocean Springs Depot Garden. They were created by an artist from the Czech Republic. On Sunday, Herb Moore drove by and made a shocking discovery.

"When I drove up, it was missing off the pedestal and I thought, 'Oh my Lord what's happened?' said Moore.

Vandals targeted one of the sculptures called "Lover." Moore found two large pieces and shards of glass behind the pedestal.

"It obviously had to be hit with something to have broken it so severely. It's a shame."

Moore is the chairman of Public Art Project of Ocean Springs. Members contributed money to install the amber colored sculptures at the depot, along with four other art projects on city property.

"Our organization has worked hard to add to the ambience of Ocean Springs being an arts community, and the one thing we didn't have was sculpture and we thought it was a great addition. It's all volunteer. It's non-profit and to have something like this happen is just devastating."

Each sculpture here is worth about $10,000. More than a year ago, thieves hit another sculpture that was also donated by the organization. They stole a bronze bird from a pedestal at Keys Municipal Park.

"The replacement cost on that was about $1,400. $10,000, I don't know where we're going to get that from."

Ocean Springs Mayor Connie Moran was not available for an interview Tuesday. She said the city is in the process of getting insurance coverage for all five public art installations. She said a review committee is looking over quotes right now, and will present them to the board of aldermen for approval.

"I think we definitely have got to have insurance, and it would be a great asset if we had security cameras," said Moore.

Moore said the organization wanted to add five more art projects in the near future, but these recent vandalism cases have some board members raising questions.

"We're just unsure of putting forth the effort. 99 percent of the people appreciate it. It's just that one percent that always gets you in trouble, so we'll see."

Ocean Springs Police are treating this as a felony malicious mischief case due to the high value of the destroyed sculpture. Police say they have no leads right now, and they are asking for the public's help in tracking down the vandals. If you have any information, call investigators at (228) 875-2211.

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