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Moochie's owner pleads for return of 'Meatball Madonna'

SALT LAKE CITY — The owner of popular downtown sandwich shop Moochie's Meatballs and More said the theft of its mascot and statue, the "Meatball Madonna," has been devastating.

Especially as Joanna Rendi and her husband prepare to open a new restaurant and also celebrate Moochie's 10-year anniversary.

"Now is probably the worst time," she said. "But it doesn't matter on the timing, it's so upsetting that someone would steal her, she is just such a big part of our business and she really means a lot to me."

The iron statue of a robed woman holding a ball, which Rendi likes to think is a meatball, was stolen from the restaurant at 282 E. 800 South. Salt Lake City police detective Veronica Montoya said people discovered the statue was missing around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday and was then reported to police.

Rendi said the business had surveillance cameras, but the thief apparently knew the space well enough to avoid them.

"They knew exactly what they were going for," she said. "They didn't take anything else, they were very careful to stay out of the sight of cameras."

Rendi said she bought the statute 10 years ago as an anniversary present to her husband just before opening Moochie's. She said the thieves may have believed it was made of bronze, but she said it's only iron and would yield only $2 or $3 if sold as scrap metal.

She is offering a reward for anyone who can provide information leading to the statue's return.

"To me, it's priceless," Rendi said. "Thieves don't realize how they hurt people. To them it's just a thing, but to me that really meant a lot and I'm really upset about it."

Anyone with information about the statue can contact police at 801-799-3000.

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