The Bluffton High bobcat stolen from campus last week was found Wednesday morning after it was spotted near the school.
A middle school student saw the 250-pound statue atop a maintenance building at the Pinecrest Golf Course directly across the street from the high school, Bluffton High principal Mark Dievendorf said.
The student saw it at about 7 a.m. after his parents dropped an older sibling off at the high school. The family then notified the school.
School officials removed the statue from the building around 10 a.m., according to Chris Dorsey, head technician at Pinecrest.
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The statue had no visible damage, according to Capt. Joseph Manning of the Bluffton Police Department
Dorsey said he did not see the statue until Wednesday morning and does not know how long it was on the building.
"If you were coming out of one of the high school entrances, you would have seen it," Dorsey said. "You couldn't miss it."
School officials discovered May 12 that the statue had been swiped from the football stadium. The statue also was stolen in May 2012, reappearing a week later on the 50-yard line of the football field of rival Hilton Head Island High School. Last December, the statue and a tunnel to the football field at Bluffton High were vandalized with graffiti containing references to the Hilton Head High Seahawks.
The statue, made by the father of a former football player, has sentimental but little monetary value, Beaufort County School District spokesman Jim Foster has said.
Dievendorf said he does not know what was behind the theft, but said it is possibly related to the inter-school rivalry.
The case has been turned over to the school's resource officer for follow-up, Manning said.
Dievendorf said the statue has not yet been placed back on the field, but the school will make plans to do so soon.
"We're happy that it's back in the Bobcat Nation," Dievendorf said.
Follow reporter Sarah Bowman on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Sarah for updates.
- Bluffton High School mascot stolen from football field, May 15, 2014
- Bluffton High Bobcat tunnel, mascot vandalized: References to Hilton Head High Seahawks in graffiti, December 30, 2013
- Stolen Bluffton High mascot reappears on rival Hilton Head's football field, May 17, 2012
- Bluffton Bobcat mascot stolen from football field, May 15, 2012