Thieves made off with an unusual haul earlier this month in east Sacramento: five unfinished sculptures created by a prominent local artist.
The ceramic and bronze sculptures by Camille VandenBerge were taken Dec. 10 from a storage shed attached to her studio near 52nd and J streets. The burglars later sought to sell the life-size sculptures, police said, showing off photos of them to an antiques dealer who had no idea they were stolen.
VandenBerge's pieces, generally sculptures of women with elongated figures, have been featured at the Crocker Art Museum and shown across the United States and Europe, said her father, artist Peter VandenBerge.
Her sculptures typically sell for $8,000 to $12,000 apiece, he said.
The stolen items, because they are unsigned, probably have little street value, Peter VandenBerge said. But to the artist, "they are something very special. It's not like a stolen television that you can replace."
Camille VandenBerge said she had been working on a couple of the sculptures for several years. One of them was to be included in a series of 12 angels she intended to complete in 2013.
"When I got the news that the sculptures were gone, I actually kind of fell to my knees," she said. "I couldn't believe it."
Police are looking for a man and a woman whom a witness spotted with at least one of the art pieces. Two of the creations are ceramic sculptures standing more than 5 feet tall, and another is a giant ceramic human face.
Anyone with information about the theft should contact police.
Tips can be called into the dispatch center at (916) 264-5471 or Crime Alert at (916) 443-4357, or text in a tip to 274637. Enter SACTIP followed by the tip information. Callers can remain anonymous and are eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.
Camille VandenBerge said she may add to the reward money.
"I can forgive whoever took them," she said. "I just want my work to be returned."