An antique mid-19th century cast-iron dolphin lawn ornament at the Hampton Mansion in Towson has been reported stolen, an FBI spokesman said yesterday.
Authorities believe that whoever took the rare dolphin -- valued at about $12,000 -- may have thought it was made of copper or bronze and intended to sell it for the metal, said James Dearborn, a spokesman for the FBI office in Baltimore. The FBI is investigating the theft because the mansion sits on federal property managed by the National Park Service.
Thieves removed three bolts to take the 150-pound dolphin from its fountain trough on June 16, Mr. Dearborn said.
"It's considered a very rare piece," said Lynne Dakin Hastings, curator for the mansion. "If someone sees it, they will recognize it."
Antique dealers in the Baltimore area have been told of the theft.
Ms. Hastings speculated that the dolphin was stolen by someone who wanted to keep it. "It's my belief they knew exactly what they were getting. Very expensive antique lawn ornaments are being stolen by people wanting them for their own lawns," she said.
Anyone with information may contact the FBI at 265-8080.