Updated 06/07/2012 03:31 PM
'Big Indian' statue vandalized
CATTARAUGUS TERRITORY — State Police say the vandalism of a well-known roadside landmark along the Thruway on the Cattaraugus Territory may have been a part of a school prank.
The Big Indian statue was found in a ditch, not far from where it normally stands behind the Big Indian Smoke Shop near Irving. The hands, feet, and headdress were broken.
State Police are currently conducting interviews, but would not say what school the students are from.
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The owner of the Big Indian Smoke Shop found his $60,000 statue laying in a ditch Wednesday near the spot where it usually stands.
Cyrus Schindler said he believes someone tried to steal the Big Indian.
"If they wanted to vandalize him, they could of vandalized him right where he stands. But they took the time to take the bolts out and move the gates and then get him down into the ditch," he said.
Schindler said a trooper told him it appears students from an area high school were involved.
State Police would not confirm. They said they're still investigating what happened to the shop's recognizable advertisement.
"Really I don't think you could do anything with it. Everyone in the area knows where it came from," Schindler said.
Locals said it would be difficult to steal the thousand pound statue.
"It's huge. It's humongous. I don't even know how they drug it as far as they did. It's humongous," Klarisa Foster said.
Schindler said the Big Indian has been standing by Interstate 90 near Irving for more than a decade.
People who drive the route regularly said it was strange not to see it Wednesday.
"I've gotten gas at the Big Indian quite often and it's something that you're used to, just like if a building were there," Fredonia resident Eliot Rose said.
Schlinder said the statue is made mostly of fiberglass and has several thousand dollars worth of damage to statue's hands, feet and headdress.
"We have one that blew over last winter from the strong winds and he broke his shoulder so we have like a Big Indian hospital in our warehouse," he said.
He said he'll have it restored and it will stand again.