A crew of apparently muscle-bound thieves stole eight pieces of Parkside-area history over the weekend, and officials are scratching their heads trying to figure out why the items were stolen.
The eight stolen granite markers – each weighing about 100 to 120 pounds – were among 30 historical markers being installed on Main Street sidewalks, between Florence and Leroy avenues. The granite markers measure 20-by-20 inches and are 2 inches thick.
“These are 30 vignettes about the changing nature of Main Street and what it meant to people,” explained Ben Johnson, executive director of the Parkside Community Association.
The eight markers were stolen sometime between Saturday afternoon and Monday morning, from behind a Main Street television repair shop, out of plain view from the street.
“Given that we can’t find any logical resale value for these, we just think it’s knuckleheads being knuckleheads,” Johnson said. “It’s not scrap metal. It’s not copper piping. It’s granite.”
The Parkside Community Association lacks the funds to replace the stolen markers. That’s why Johnson offered to let the thieves return them, with no questions asked and no charges filed.
“This is a crime against the public,” he said. “This is a crime against the neighborhood. This is a crime against the sense that you can trust your neighbors and work together to improve Main Street.”
Of the 30 markers, 17 already had been installed on Main Street sidewalks, and the other 13 were stored on pallets behind the TV repair shop. The five that weren’t stolen were being installed Monday.
“First and foremost, we now have holes in the sidewalk that we have to address as soon as we can,” Johnson said. “Beyond that, the idea that someone, for no discernible gain, would do something like this is hugely disappointing.”
The 30 markers span more than two centuries of Buffalo history, with the first one labeled “pre 1791” and the last one covering 1998 to 2013.
One of the eight stolen pieces celebrates 1901:
“Buffalo is now the eighth largest city in the U.S., with over 350,000 residents. Nine million people attend the Pan-Am Exposition in Buffalo. Nearly 200 platform tents set up at ‘Camp Jewett’ along Parkside Ave. provide inexpensive lodging for attendees. The Expo showcases awe-inspiring displays of electricity and lighting, the newly invented X-ray machine, a midway, stunning architecture and music. Other nearby attractions include Niagara Falls and the Buffalo Zoo, featuring Big Frank, one of the first zoo elephants in the country.”
Each stolen marker is valued at $530, meaning that the eight granite pieces are worth a total of $4,240. The 30 markers were bought with a $60,000 grant from the New York Main Street Program. That project also funded two murals on large exposed Main Street walls and seven medium-size banners on street lamps.
The granite markers on Main Street sidewalks wouldn’t be noticeable to motorists. Instead, they’re designed for pedestrians.
“It gives people a chance to take their time when they’re walking down Main Street,” Johnson said.
Anyone with information on how to get the markers back may call Johnson at 838-1240.