Robber Jack Strover jailed after stealing a £150,000 bronze statue of three dancers wearing hare masks from an estate near Tenterden

A thief who stole a £150,000 bronze statue after dragging it from a country estate with a stolen Land Rover has been jailed.

Jack Strover destroyed the 600kg bronze works of three dancers wearing hare masks during a jaunt near Tenterden.

The three statues were taken from a garden in Wittersham. Photo: Kent Police

The 34-year-old, who got away with one of the figurines for sale ‘for scrap’, was jailed at Canterbury Crown Court.

Sophie Ryder’s piece, weighing around 200kg per figurine, disappeared from the driveway of Budds House near Tenterden one evening in January last year.

Two figurines were later discovered thrown into a nearby ditch, leaving the entire statue shattered beyond repair.

Images of the shattered statue taken by Kent Police

Strover, of no fixed abode, used a stolen Discovery 4×4 from a Great Chart property near Ashford moments before carrying out the raid.

“The statue was cast in bronze with three figures weighing at least 200 kg,” prosecutor Emin Kandola said.

“The Land Rover was used to rip this statue out of the ground and drag it.”

Jack Strover was jailed for two years for the theft
Jack Strover was jailed for two years for the theft

CCTV footage taken inside the grounds in Wittersham around 9pm showed officers how the crime unfolded.

“The Land Rover can be seen leaving the scene, dragging the statue with it, damaging the gate.

“A resident heard the loud revs and a bang and saw the 4×4 and heard male voices,” Ms Kandola continued.

The eyewitness’s car was also written off.

Analysis of the cell site led police to Strover and he was arrested 11 days later, the court heard.

The missing piece of the statue has not been found.

Jack Strover was jailed for two years at Canterbury Crown Court.  Archival photo
Jack Strover was jailed for two years at Canterbury Crown Court. Archival photo

Handing down a two-year sentence on Friday, the judge, Recorder Matthew McDonagh, told Strover: “This Land Rover Discovery was used in a more serious theft of a bronze statue at Budds House later today.

“This bronze statue was of substantial size, three figures, worth £150,000.

“You and your accomplice tied this to the back of the Land Rover Discovery.

“The weight was too heavy, two of these figures were destroyed, you fled with a figure.”

Nicholas Hamblin, mitigating, argued that the raid “was amateurish”, with the statue targeted for scrap, rather than being sold “as a work of art”.

“The weight was too heavy, two of these miniatures were destroyed, you escaped with a miniature…”

He added Strover, who has 29 convictions for 62 offenses, pleaded guilty to two counts of larceny before trial and intended to use the metal to pay off a drug debt.

And although the crime was committed by a group, it “did not play a prominent role”, Mr Hamblin said.

Appearing remotely from HMP Elmley, the homeless Strover broke off proceedings to announce he intended to sell the statue ‘for scrap’.

Ms Ryder, 59, famous for her sculptures of mythical creatures in bronze, resin, wire and marble, created the statue.

His works have been exhibited in the UK, Europe and the United States, Lady Hare being his most famous works.

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