Today’s news:

Virgin Mary stolen from Bayside yard

For more than 40 years a small white statue of the Virgin Mary watched over the garden in front of Margaret Kuhn’s longtime Bayside home, gazing down on flowers and grass from a small three-inch high perch.

Last week Kuhn looked out the front windows of her modest house near Bayside High School expecting to see the ever-present statue, which was a gift from her late mother-in-law.

“I couldn’t believe I couldn’t see the top of the head,” she said during an interview just four days after the statue was stolen from her yard on July 29. “Who would do that?”

Kuhn, who was home with her husband throughout the day July 29, said she believes the statue was taken by brazen thieves sometime between 11 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. that day. The robbers had to go directly under the large windows of the front room in broad daylight to lift the heavy cement statue, she said.

“I really don’t know what kind of person it was — it’s a shame,” said Kuhn, who has lived with her husband Raymond in Bayside for nearly 55-years. “It meant so much to me. I’m mad to think they did that, that they came in our property and just took it.”

The elderly Baysider, who cares for her ill husband at home, reported the crime to the 111th Police Precinct in Bayside but said she holds out little hope for the statue’s return.

“If I ever got that back, it would be a miracle,” she said. “I go to bed at night and wonder where it is.”

Caring for the statue was a yearly ritual, Kuhn said, during which the family would paint the religious icon in white and maintain it. At Christmastime tiny lights often decorated the statue.

“I just wanted to have it for the garden, and to dedicate the garden to Mary,” Kuhn said of the statue of the Blessed Mother, which her mother-in-law gave her as a gift after a trip to Long Island.

Kuhn said she has heard of several other robberies throughout the quiet neighborhood near Bayside High School and said it was important for residents to alert the police when such thefts occur.

“Incidents have happened here,” she said.

In crime statistics reported by the New York Police Department for the first six months of 2001, robbery was one of the only crimes to increase so far this year in the northeast Queens precinct.

The 111th Police Precinct in Bayside also includes the communities of Little Neck, Douglaston, Oakland Gardens, Hollis Hills and parts of Auburndale and Flushing.

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.

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