Scavengers roaming Greek streets and even tearing apart buildings in search of copper – in one case trying to take down an entire bridge – have now claimed the bronze busts of famed Greek writer Nikos Kazantzakis and renowned artist El Greco, that were ripped off their bases right in front of the Athens Municipal Cultural Center.
Eight metal statues have now been stolen in the past six months by thieves anxious to cash in on selling them for scrap, which could mean the works are gone forever. But Deputy Athens Mayor Nelly Papachela told the Athens-Macedonia News Agency that four of the missing sculptures have been located by police at a scrapyard southwest of Athens.
“It is impossible to guard them because the bronze busts are scattered all over Athens,” she said. “The perpetrators appear to be very audacious, because they don’t even keep away from very central locations that are also well lit.”
Speaking to Parliament Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias said he is exploring ways to protect public property such as rail tracks, electricity cables, bridges, transformers and metal ornamental features from being stolen for scrap, a source of illegal income that has gained momentum since the onset of the economic crisis and which costs the state millions of euros a year.
Besides thieves, Greeks and immigrants are scouring trash bins and recycling receptacles in search of metal materials that can be sold.