The case of the missing anchor has been solved. A decorative anchor was reported stolen Monday from where it sat in front of the Naval Reserve Center in La Crosse. The report raised eyebrows because police described the anchor as 6 feet long and weighing 2,000 pounds, and said there were no witnesses to the theft even though the center faces a well-traveled street.
It turns out the anchor wasn't stolen, U.S. Navy Cmdr. Kurt Hedberg said Tuesday. The Navy reclaimed it last year when it ceded the building and land to the city of La Crosse.
''Before the center was turned over in December I was instructed to dispose of all Navy property, and that's what we did,'' Hedberg said. No one ever asked him for the anchor, which he said is now somewhere in storage.
He also said the anchor was nowhere near the size that police estimated.
''It might be about 500 pounds, 5 feet tall,'' he said. ''When the movers came in they just backed up a flatbed truck and loaded it on.''
Apparently no one noticed its disappearance until someone mentioned it last week at a meeting of the Navy Reserve Memorial Oversight Committee, chairman Tom Sweeney said.
The committee, which claimed it owns the anchor, planned to use it as a memorial at the station. Sweeney verified it was missing and called police.
The disappearance became national news. When Hedberg found out about the story in a Navy newspaper he was incredulous.
''I got a call this morning that this was local news in La Crosse,'' he said. ''I was like, 'You're kidding me, right?'''
He called police and let them know the Navy had the anchor.
Sweeney said he was under the impression the anchor belonged to the center, but Hedberg said it was federal property because it was manufactured using federal funds.
Sweeney said he was grateful to learn the anchor hadn't been stolen, but he was miffed that the Navy took it.
''It would have been nice before they took it to let us know it's theirs,'' he said. ''When someone gives you something and then takes it back without letting you know, you assume someone else took it.''
Police Lt. Bob Berndt, who earlier speculated the anchor was stolen and sold for scrap, did not immediately return a message left Tuesday afternoon by The Associated Press.
The Navy said it might take time to track down the anchor in storage. The anchor never sailed on a Navy ship and was of no naval historical significance, so it wouldn't appear on any federal register or inventory, Hedberg said.
Hedberg added that no one has contacted him seeking the anchor's return, but the Navy would be open to discussions.
''We would be willing to talk to them to explore options,'' he said. ''I'm sure we could work something out.''
''That'd be great,'' Sweeney said.
On the Net:
La Crosse Naval Station: http://www.cityoflacrosse.org/navalreserve
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