Wellington—A stolen statue of Lord Ernest Rutherford, a pioneer of nuclear physics, will be reunited with its feet after a quick-thinking police officer dived into an icy New Zealand river to arrest the suspected thief.
Lord Rutherford, who won the Nobel Prize in 1908, was born in the town of Brightwater, on New Zealand’s South Island, where a statue of him as a child stood until it was stolen on Friday night with only the feet remaining.
Images of the thief cycling away from the scene on a bicycle carrying the heavy metallic statue were caught on CCTV.
However, when the 35-year-old man suspected of stealing the statue jumped into the flooded Wai-iti River in the middle of winter to evade police on Sunday night, constable Jamie White plunged into the icy waters to make the arrest.
“Despite his best efforts to escape down the Wai-iti River, to his surprise, I swam after him and managed to apprehend him,” White told AFP in a statement.
“Safe to say I enjoyed a nice warm shower after that.”
By Monday, the suspected thief was scheduled to appear in court.
The statue was recovered in good condition from a residential property.
It is set to be reunited with its feet at Rutherford Memorial Grounds on Lord Rutherford Road South in Brightwater.
Lord Rutherford (1871-1937) was the central figure in the study of radioactivity and led the exploration of nuclear physics.