Stolen playground equipment saddens Houstonians

January 27, 2010 4:15:58 PM PST
A theft has left some southwest Houston parents outraged and city leaders appealing to the public for help. At the center of it all is a special piece of playground equipment that disappeared from Fleming Park in southwest Houston. A playground ride named Mary the Lamb has gone missing and it's believed whoever took it used a saw to remove it from its platform. But this isn't just playground equipment. For residents around the park, it's so much more.

Hannes Martin said, "Then one day I came here and it was gone."

Six-year-old Hannes may not know how the heist happened but, he knows it isn't right.

When asked what he knows about someone taking the lamb, he responded, "That he's a robber."

It's an opinion shared by a lot parents around Fleming Park who can't believe anyone would steal from a children's playground.

"Sad and upset because I believe that there are many things that are replaced by plastic," said parent Stefani Engels.

The cast iron lamb, named affectionately Mary, first disappeared about two weeks ago. Since then neighbors have been up in arms. The Houston city council even made a point of showing flyers to draw attention to the theft.

"Release the lamb," said Houston City Council member Anne Clutterbuck. "Send it back, bring it back. If it was part of a prank, no questions asked ."

Fleming Park was established in the 1920s. Much of the playground equipment here has been around for generations. In fact, one group, Friends of Fleming Park, has fought to maintain that old- time feel. They say while the missing lamb may not be worth much in dollars, in sentiment, it's priceless.

"It is," said Beverly Wiemer with Friends of Fleming Park. "It's sad."

That's something little Hannes knows too well.

He said, "(I miss the lamb) because it looked so pretty."

The Friends of Fleming Park says they've spent about $10,000 a year on upkeep of the park. Council member Clutterbuck says she will be working with HPD to catch whoever did this.

Fleming Park is located at 1901 Sunset Blvd. The Park was acquired in 1926 and sits on approximately 2.50 acres.