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3 charged in theft of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young statue

William Ren Ford, 47, of Sandy, was arrested Tuesday, Mary 23, 2017, in connection with the theft of an 800-pound bronze statue of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young.
William Ren Ford, 47, of Sandy, was arrested Tuesday, Mary 23, 2017, in connection with the theft of an 800-pound bronze statue of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young.
Salt Lake County Jail

SALT LAKE CITY — Three people involved in the theft of an 800-pound bronze statue of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young have been charged.

According to charging documents, the defendants did intend to do what Salt Lake City police feared and "cut the statue up and (sell) the pieces as scrap metal."

William Ford, 47, of Sandy, and Jacob Ferguson, 40, who is listed as homeless, were charged Thursday in 3rd District Court with theft, a first-degree felony. Larry Forness, 52, is listed as a co-defendant.

On May 23, a statue worth an estimated $125,000 of the LDS Church leaders sitting on a park bench was stolen from the back dock area of the Northgate Business Park, 825 N. 300 West, just before 4 a.m.

Business surveillance video showed an SUV with a flatbed trailer pull up and four people get out. A woman later questioned by police said once she realized what the group intended to do, she got back in the SUV and refused to participate. Surveillance video seemed to confirm that, according to charging documents, and the woman was not charged.

The other three somehow managed to lift the heavy statue onto the trailer.

After the video was released publicly, police received a tip that a trailer matching that description was parked in front of a residence in Sandy, the charges state. The owner of the residence was contacted, and she said her son, Ford, was fixing up the property, according to court documents. She gave permission for police to search the property. The statue was found in the garage undamaged.

Ferguson and Ford were arrested. At the time the charges were filed, Forness was outstanding and a warrant was issued for his arrest.

The statue as commissioned by the Young Fine Arts Studio, with plans to be sent to Nauvoo, Illinois.

State court records show Ford has a lengthy history of mostly theft- and shoplifting-related charges, most recently pleading guilty to shoplifting in April. He was also convicted of shoplifting or attempted shoplifting in 2015, 2013 and 2012, according to court records. He was sentenced last week in his latest shoplifting conviction to six months jail and ordered to complete a drug treatment program, according to court documents.

Ford was charged in January with forgery and theft by deception, court records state. A preliminary hearing in that case is scheduled for June 8.