A south Forsyth man who provided information that led to the recovery of large eagle sculpture has been charged in connection with its theft.
According to the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, 29-year-old Pedro Castro Garcia faces one count of theft by receiving.
Sheriff’s deputies arrested Garcia at his home Monday afternoon. He was released from the Forsyth County Detention Center later that night on a $14,110 bond.
The statue had been reported stolen Aug. 28 from the Bethelview trailhead of the Forsyth County Big Creek Greenway.
Following a tip from a local business owner, it was recovered in good condition Wednesday in a storage shed at Garcia’s home.
Sheriff’s office spokeswoman Karleen Chalker said investigators are still trying to determine who took the statue from the trailhead.
“It is not believed that Mr. Garcia was involved in the theft,” she said. “He received the stolen eagle and apparently made some kind of payment for it.”
According to Chalker, Garcia told investigators he “suspected the eagle was stolen when he purchased it.”
She explained that the charge for theft by receiving is based on whether someone knew or should have known that the item was stolen.
In this case, the charge is a felony because of the value of the statue, which is about $18,500.
Garcia is scheduled to appear Oct. 24 in Forsyth County Superior Court.
Local business owner Lance White alerted authorities to the eagle’s whereabouts after Garcia asked if he knew anyone who would like to buy it.
White said Garcia, who does landscape work and other odd jobs for him, wanted to return the eagle once White told him it had been stolen from the county.
White posted bail for Garcia because he believes he’s not guilty of a crime.
“He’s guilty of being naïve and ignorant, but he’s not guilty of intentionally knowing it was stolen and that it was stolen from this county,” White said. “He’s somebody who was trying to make an honest living for himself, and he works harder than most people I know.”
White, who owns Lance’s Jewelry, said it was “disheartening” to learn that Garcia had been arrested.
“Any one of us could have been in this situation if we bought something that we didn’t know was stolen,” said White, adding that Garcia doesn’t own a television or have access to the local newspaper, which reported the theft.
The bronze sculpture had been on display since May. It’s 60 inches tall, 54 inches wide, 45 inches deep and weighs about 400 pounds.
Investigators have said it likely took at least two people to remove the statue from its base.
The county was leasing the piece from sculptor Gregory Johnson for a year through a grant provided by the Forsyth County Arts Alliance.
The lease, which is “fully funded” by the arts grant, was $2,000 for this year, Forsyth County spokeswoman Jodi Gardner wrote in an e-mail.
The sculpture was scheduled to be on display through year’s end.
“Forsyth County and the artist would both like to complete the term of the grant by placing the sculpture back on display,” Gardner wrote. “The county is currently working with the artist to determine the best location for the sculpture.”
She added that the county is considering measures to ensure the security of the artwork.