Thief returns dolphin lawn ornament


A man who admitted stealing a rare mid-19th century cast iron dolphin lawn ornament from the Hampton Mansion in Towson returned it yesterday after learning of its value through media accounts, Baltimore County police said.

Sgt. Stephen R. Doarnberger, a police spokesman, said police received a call about 2 a.m. yesterday from a man who said he stole the antique dolphin, valued at $12,000, Sunday from a trough beside the mansion.

"He said he didn't realize it was worth so much" until he heard news reports, Sergeant Doarnberger said.

The man told police he took the dolphin because it was outside andhe thought it was "being junked."

Lynne Dakin Hastings, curator for the mansion, had said the ornament was very rare. "Very expensive antique lawn ornaments are being stolen by people wanting them for their own lawns," she said.

The unidentified caller said the dolphin could be found next to the United Parcel Service office in the Loveton Center off York Road in Sparks.

Police said they recovered the 150-pound lawn ornament and returned it to federal authorities, who were handling the case because the mansion is operated by the federal park service.

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