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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) – Dan Robinson’s restaurant, T Burger, sits just off Paul W. Bryant Drive and isn’t immediately visible to someone traveling down that busy thoroughfare.
He mounted a 250-pound aluminum elephant on the roof hoping to grab the attention of potential customers.
“That is basically my sign. It’s what you see from the road if you’re walking from the stadium,” he said. “It took me forever to find it.”
Robinson had the $5,000 elephant shipped from Mexico when he opened the restaurant in February. It disappeared some time between midnight and 5 a.m. Sunday, apparently the victim of young thieves who climbed the building and pushed it to the sidewalk below.
The manager of a nearby apartment complex noticed the elephant while two young men were moving out of their residence off Seventh Street on Sunday, Robinson said.
Robinson was able to retrieve it and said he hopes that a contractor can repair the damage so it isn’t noticeable from ground-level.
Part of one ear is missing and the other is broken. There’s also a hole in the flank.
The two suspects told police officers that friends had stolen the elephant, Robinson said. He asked the young men, one a University of Alabama student and the other a former student, to pay him for the damage.
“I told them that I wouldn’t prosecute if they could pay restitution. I don’t want to ruin these kids’ lives,” he said. “They came up with some money. If that’s able to cover the costs of repair, I won’t ask for the rest. But if this happens again, I’ll have to prosecute. This really could have hurt me.”
Robinson opened the restaurant at 1014 Seventh Ave. under the name Burger U on Feb. 19. He later changed the name to T Burger. He is originally from New York, but ended up in New Orleans, where he owned a restaurant in the French Quarter for 6 1/2 years. T Burger serves burgers and other food with a Louisiana influence.
The elephant statue isn’t the first of its kind to be stolen from a local establishment.
In 2010, a group of young men and a woman, who admitted they had consumed too much alcohol, stole a 300-pound, 4-foot-tall bronze elephant statue from the Mellow Mushroom restaurant downtown.
One of the men involved later contacted the restaurant and returned it, with one less tusk. The restaurant owner didn’t press charges.
Earlier in 2010, someone stole a statue of Jesus with two children from the Catholic Social Services office. A 15-year-old had bought the statue as part of his Eagle Scout project to revitalize the grounds.
Guilt apparently led the thief to wrap the statue in a garbage bag and leave it at the site of the former Worm Shack, an outdoor store that was near Greensboro Avenue and 35th Street. A caller to the social services office informed the director of the statue’s location.
Information from: The Tuscaloosa News
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