Stolen £7,500 hedgehog Dave is found dumped in a ditch
- Credit: The Hog Hotel
The owners of a popular hotel and restaurant have been reunited with a giant hedgehog sculpture.
The distinctive 'Dave the hedgehog' sculpture - complete with 2,500 spikes - was stolen from the front of the Hog Hotel, in London Road, Pakefield on Sunday night.
After the boutique hotel's devastated owners had launched a plea on social media to trace the "much-loved and cherished" hedgehog, it was found having been dumped in a ditch on Wednesday, February 17.
The unique sculpture was specially commissioned as a tribute to owners Nathan and Cathy Jones' late father Dave, after whom the hotel is dedicated.
With the bespoke hedgehog illustration featuring on the hotel's signage and branding as well as the wallpaper and artwork within the hotel's décor, the one metre high hedgehog sculpture was built by local craft woodworker and boatbuilder Andy Barrett.
Hotel owner, Nathan Jones, said: "The hotel was bought in August 2018, the year my dad died.
"It was refurbished from November 2018 to June 2019, and Dave was placed outside the front of the hotel in September 2019."
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It was stolen at 10.39pm on Sunday, February 14 from the front of the hotel in south Lowestoft.
CCTV footage from the hotel shows a man dragging it out of the hotel's car park and off site, as he headed down London Road South and past the nearby church.
Mr Jones said: "It took Mr Barrett six months to build the sculpture, with more than 2,500 spikes, each one hand turned and polished.
"The CCTV footage shows a total disregard for this precious piece of artwork, with an estimated replacement value of £7,500, being dragged on its face by its base - a heavy metal platform.
"We never dreamed that someone would steal this much loved and cherished sculpture, particularly being so prickly and heavy.
"These are desperate and unprecedented times, but why steal a wooden sculpture which is so unique and instantly recognisable?"
Dave the hedgehog was found by businessman Johnny Spillings, who owns The Penny Bun Bakehouse.
He was on his way to work on Wednesday morning when he spotted it in a ditch in Gisleham.
The Hog Hotel director and owner, Sally Jones, added: "We are delighted to have Dave back albeit battered and bruised and missing a few spikes."
With investigations continuing, a police spokesman said: "An unknown male suspect, described as being aged in his 40s to 50s, removed a handcrafted hedgehog sculpture from outside the premises by dragging it away."
Information to Lowestoft police, quoting crime reference number 37/7620/21, via 101.