Michael Rugg, Bigfoot Discovery Museum owner, reported his famous redwood Bigfoot carving stolen on Nov. 9. Three days later, the Scotts Valley Police Department escorted the sculpture back to the museum after a resident reported an early-morning Bigfoot sighting off Glen Canyon and Green Hills Road.
SVPD officer Tim Renn followed the tip at 6:30am on Nov. 12 and discovered the discarded carving. He contacted the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office, as it was originally their case, and delivered the statue back to its Felton home.
Bigfoot sustained damage during its abduction—its forehead was dented and it lost redwood bark around its base.
Rugg was surprised to find his largest lawn ornament missing, stolen in the middle of the day.
“I left around 11:30am, and it was still there,” he said. “When I came back in less than an hour, it was gone, along with a smaller bear carving.”
Between that time frame, thieves cut the lock, moved the chain protecting the statue, and managed to heave it into their car. Rugg estimates the carving’s weight around “a couple hundred pounds. It would have taken at least two people to move it.”
He said he guesses, “it was probably stolen by teens and they were doing it for a lark. Then they realized it was a bigger deal than they thought. It looked like a lot of people were going to be pretty upset, so they dumped it.”
The sculpture has resided at the museum for 16 years, since its opening. Redwood Bigfoot was carved on premise, by Joe Kersh, a chainsaw artist in Santa Cruz at the time. Rugg thought the carving made the museum, “look like the typical roadside attraction that used to be plentiful in Santa Cruz County. My museum is a memory of that.”
The sculpture theft is one of many difficulties the Bigfoot Discovery Museum has recently experienced. The museum is currently struggling monetarily, as it’s been closed for the past six months due to Covid-19 restrictions and for improvements. Rugg has started a GoFundMe to save the museum from financial collapse.
Aside from monetary woes, the museum has often been the site of public hostility. Part of Rugg’s renovation will be patching up holes in the exterior, “from kids throwing rocks.”
Rugg’s car has also been damaged heavily in the past, from people driving past and throwing glass bottles. He said he believes their actions are motivated by “skepticism about Bigfoot. Some act people out and do bad things, these people don’t care about anyone but themselves.”
He said he’s placed “a much larger lock that can’t be cut. Anyone looking to take the sculpture will have to cut the chain which is pretty thick. I think it’ll be safe for a while.”
Donate to the Bigfoot Discovery Museum’s GoFundMe at www.gofundme.com/f/Save-the-Bigfoot-Discovery-Museum. Learn more about the museum at www.bigfootdiscoveryproject.com/.