SJ statue depicting heroic Indian ruler found after being sawed off post, stolen last month

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Friday, February 10, 2023
SJ statue depicting heroic Indian ruler found after being stolen
A statue of Indian ruler Chhatrapati Shivajii Maharaj was found after being sawed off and stolen from San Jose's Guadalupe River Park last month.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- At Guadalupe River Park in San Jose, visitors will get a good look at what crooks left behind after sawing off the 440-pound statue of Indian ruler Chhatrapati Shivajii Maharaj.

The statue was a gift to residents of San Jose in 1999, from its Sister City of Pune, India.

"I think there's absolutely no reason for somebody to steal it, except a way to sell it for some material," Suneel Kelkar told ABC7 News. "And it's quite stupid. But maybe not. People need money all the time."

Kelkar is the president of the San Jose-Pune Sister City Organization, a group that has worked to strengthen ties between the municipalities. On Jan. 31, there was a shock to both communities and beyond after learning the statue had been stolen from atop its five-foot concrete slab.

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"To cut the three legs with a huge saw, it made a lot of noise which nobody heard I guess, at night," Kelkar described. "And it was a 400-pound statue for two or three people to lift it up, put it in your trunk - I mean, put in a truck - then drive it way."

"There was quite an effort for such little money, which they didn't get anyway," he continued.

City officials shared earlier photos with ABC7 News, showing the statue as it was meant to be displayed.

"People have tremendous respect for him," Kelkar shared about Maharaj. "And that's why his statue was sent here, as a symbol of India's freedom, for example."

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According to Joseph Hedges, the city's international relations manager, it's unclear what the exact metal the statue is made of. However, he says it may be bronze coated.

"The city's Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services department, following the theft of the statue, contacted metal and foundry shops in San Jose to report the theft, to make sure that if it showed up at those locations, they would be aware of the theft," Hedges shared.

And finally, a breakthrough early Thursday by ABC7 News media partners at the Mercury News. Reporter Gabriel Greschler posted a photo to Twitter, showing the statue next to a vending machine at a local business.

"It was the great work of a reporter that actually resulted in the location of the statue," he continued.

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Hedges said there is certainly plenty of work ahead to determine what repairs are needed, whether it could be reinstalled and what security measures should be considered.

"It will be a priority to take possession of the statue once again, and to evaluate the statue and have it be installed and made available to the public so they can enjoy the statue in San Jose at the Guadalupe River Park," he shared.

However, Kelkar told ABC7 News, "It's not a very safe place for a statue to be there. So we're wondering where we can keep it covered or protected or somehow."

ABC7 News reached out to SJPD. The department confirmed the statue was found. The department said there was no suspect information, but the crooks could potentially face Grand Theft charges.

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