CENTER POINT, Iowa - Sunday night, crooks hit the home of a Center Point couple and made off with thousands of dollars in stolen goods. But those goods weren't electronics, vehicles, or jewelry. They're antique signs.
Mike Le Clere knows just what he'd do if he'd spotted the people who stole his collection of signs. "I would have opened my little dresser drawer, pulled my .45 out. And I would have been out here," said Mike.
That may seem drastic, but Mike and his wife Dusty Sylver loved them. "Putting the signs up there was a way for us to show some heritage, where the country used to be," said Dusty.
They're antiques. "This one is a Quaker State. This one's a Standard, a Texaco, and a Sinclair," said Dusty, pointing to a picture of the signs on a cellphone. There are seven in all. The couple purchased them from a friend who passed away. They're worth a lot of money. "Probably around $6,000," said Mike.
For two years the signs were proudly displayed on a side of the couple's antique barn, which sits in their backyard. Dusty first noticed they were missing while looking for damage after a severe storm on Monday. "All of a sudden she come around the barn just screaming. 'Our signs are gone! Are signs are gone!'" said Mike.
Mike and Dusty think a couple thieves sunk on to their property Sunday night, used a ladder, unscrewed the signs one by one, and then rolled them down a nearby nature trail.
Evidence in the area seems to support the claim. There are holes in the ground next to the barn where a ladder could have stood, plus the screws that held the signs are now stuck in the mud below.
The Linn County Sheriff's Office is investigating. They think someone either wants to sell the signs, or display them. They said the key to cracking this case might be a crook's loose lips. "Criminals don't like to keep their mouth shut, so they tend to talk and show things around. That's when we start to get tips from the public," said Col. John Stuelke with the Linn County Sheriff's Office.
Mike and Dusty don't care how their signs are found. They just want them back.
"It ain't the money. It's about what they meant, you know?" said Mike.
The couple thinks whoever nabbed the signs did their research. The only one that wasn't taken was the cheapest of the bunch, estimated at about $20.