Bluffton High School mascot stolen from football field

loberle@beaufortgazette.comMay 15, 2014 

Theophil Syslo, Staff photo The Bluffton High School Bobcat Tunnel has been vandalized and The Bobcat painted blue. Photograph taken at Bluffton High School on December 30, 2013.

THEOPHIL SYSLO — Theophil Syslo Buy Photo

The bobcat statue at Bluffton High School has been stolen from the school's football stadium, according to school district spokesman Jim Foster.

A bobcat statue at Bluffton High School has been stolen from the school's football stadium for the second time in as many years, according to Beaufort County School District spokesman Jim Foster.

School officials discovered Monday that the 250-pound statue of the school's mascot had been swiped. The statue also was stolen in May 2012, reappearing a week later on the 50-yard line of rival Hilton Head Island High School's football field.

The one-of-a-kind statue, made by the father of a former football player, has sentimental but no monetary value, Foster said.

Last December, the statue and tunnel to the football field at Bluffton High were vandalized by graffiti with references to Hilton Head High Seahawks.

The district is unsure what to make of the latest theft, Foster said.

"There's no certainty about whether it was vandalism or whether it was related to any inter-school rivalry or whether it was simply a case of theft," Foster said.

After the statue reappearing in 2012, the school bracketed the bobcat down and installed a chain around its feet to prevent future thefts, Foster said.

It didn't work.

However, some changes to stadium security are in the works district-wide, following a review by facilities staff, Foster said.

Security cameras were installed earlier this year at Beaufort High School and should come to Hilton Head High and Bluffton High before graduation, he said. The field houses at Battery Creek High School and Whale Branch Early College High School already have cameras, according to Foster.

Meanwhile, the Bluffton Police Department is trying to find Bluffton's statue.

Bluffton High School athletic director Dave Adams declined to comment.

Follow reporter Laura Oberle at twitter.com/IPBG_Laura.

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