They were bolted down and each weighed more than 500 pounds. Now, incredibly, they're gone.
In a criminal feat of strength, someone lifted two solid bronze lions from the front steps of the Law Offices of Pat Maloney last weekend and whisked them away, authorities said.
Police are "completely baffled as to how they could have gotten that heavy of an object," said attorney Janice Maloney, owner of the lions and the building in the Monte Vista Historic District from which they were taken.
Investigators believe the theft of the statues — priced at $15,000 apiece and installed with a crane 10 years ago — took the brawn of at least two people. Last seen at 1 p.m. on Saturday, the lions were gone by Monday morning. Police had no leads on Wednesday.
Janice Maloney is baffled as well, but she's also bereft. To her, the chocolate-coloured, intricately carved cats — featured not in ferocious stances, but rather in repose — were more than mere décor.
"They were courageous, noble, but gentle," she said Wednesday, sitting inside her cozy law offices in the 300 block of West Woodlawn. "They were you and your mom," piped Della Kalenkosky, a paralegal.
Maloney, daughter of late attorney Pat Maloney Sr., purchased the cats from a furniture store in 1996 along with her mother, Olive Maloney, who died in 2004. The docile creatures had since become sentimental possessions whose fabled traits reminded Janice Maloney not only of the virtues of her profession, but also of those of her family.
Lawyers stroked them. Toddlers rode them. Maintenance men polished them. "We all got very attached to those lions," Janice Maloney said. "It's crazy to say, but we loved those lions."
Now tenants and employees are left with two glaring spaces and a host of baffling questions.
Who stole the cats? Overzealous lovers of animal art or crude thieves with designs to melt the metal and pocket the change?
Did they steal through the night with a winch and a crane?
And where are the lions now? Tucked away in a courtyard or in a basement somewhere?
Janice Maloney has no theories.
"They were the great guardians of the property," she said, "and the guardians got stolen."