Charlie Dry stood next to the ripped-up patch of grass in his front yard Monday afternoon, wiped the sweat from his brow beneath his windswept gray hair, and wondered what he did to deserve all this.
He watched as news vans from across Oklahoma City rolled in and out, reporters and cameramen all armed with the same questions about the mysterious disappearance of a particularly expensive piece of lawn art.
“The sheriff’s department told me they were going to do this because they needed help,” Dry laughed, hands pinned to his sides as another reporter walked down his driveway in northwest Oklahoma County. “I said, ‘Holy cow, I don’t do this stuff.’”
Dry said and he and his wife left their home in the 2300 block of NW 206 for an evening out on May 25. They returned to find their 1-ton marble statue depicting a man riding a horse, valued as much as $30,000, missing from the front yard.
“I didn’t even think, I just went straight to the house, straight to the pool house and straight to the barn,” said Dry, who frantically searched to see if anything else had been stolen.
“But this was a direct hit. This is what they came for and this is what they left with.”
Dry, 75, said sheriff’s deputies told him it was likely very well-planned. Thieves could have followed Dry and his wife, waited until they were far enough away, and sent in a forklift and a flatbed truck to execute the larceny.
But while that theory might prove how it was done, Dry said, it does little to prove why.
The Drys have shared the home on 15 acres for about the past eight years. It’s become a haven for their grandchildren, he said, who have plenty of space to drive around on four-wheelers. Until now, they considered it safe enough to leave doors unlocked.
“People break into homes and they get silver, they get guns and whatever,” Dry said. “Who in the world, in my state, would come and get a statue? Where are you gonna put it?”
Luckily for Dry, a former NASA engineer and test astronaut, the statue is more of a monetary loss than a personal one. When he saw it at an Oklahoma City art dealer, his wife liked it, and soon after it was placed in their front yard complete with two outdoor lights.
Now that it’s gone and more than a week has passed, he’ll wait to see if all his trouble with reporters Monday was worth it.
If Dry had it his way and was home during the theft, he said things would have gone a bit differently.
“What do you think I would have done?” Dry asked. “I’m from Oklahoma. I would have plugged somebody. Tires first, I hope.”
Anyone with information should call the Oklahoma County sheriff’s office at 713-1017.