'Icons of Harold Hill': Laurel and Hardy statues returned to 'ecstatic' owners by police
- Credit: Lesley Haylett
Statues described as “icons of Harold Hill” have been returned to their owners after being stolen from Noak Hill almost a year ago.
Life-sized Laurel and Hardy statues were taken on July 22 last year, and returned almost exactly a year later by Harold Wood police officers to owners Peter Elliott and Lesley Haylett on July 15.
The theft happened two days after Peter, 72, returned to St Bartholomew’s Hospital to be treated for leukaemia.
He had been diagnosed with the cancer just months earlier, in February 2021.
A Met spokesperson said: "The statues were recovered as part of a search in relation to a separate police investigation.
"We are delighted that we’ve been able to reunite Laurel and Hardy with their owner."
Dean Floyd who runs construction company Chigwell Group offered a reward of £10,000 for the safe return of the six-foot Noak Hill statues.
Dean said: “I am absolutely over the moon that the Laurel and Hardy statues have now been returned to their rightful owners.
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“When I was told of the theft, I acted immediately to offer a £10,000 reward for their safe return, but when no information came forward, like many others I feared they’d never be seen again."
Dean said he was as "surprised and delighted as everyone else" to hear "the boys had been found".
He looks forward to seeing them back on display to play a "central part in some of the local community fundraising activities".
Lesley said they were “ecstatic” to have the statues returned.
She thanked PC Jo McCarthy for finding them and the police for the “amazing work they do in our borough”.
The 62-year-old said: “We really didn’t think they were going to come back and we thought they were gone forever.”
Lesley said the statues have “sentimental value” and are in need of a little “tender loving care”.
The pair aim to put the statues at the front of the house for their Christmas display.
Lesley added: “Everyone is just so pleased that they are back.
"They are like icons of Harold Hill, Laurel and Hardy, and I’m just shocked even now when I look out at them in my garden.”
The Met Police said no arrests have been made.