An elderly couple from East London have been reunited with their huge statues of comedians Laurel and Hardy nearly a year after they were stolen outside their home. Lesley Haylett, 62, and her partner Peter Elliott, 72 were devastated after the 6ft figures were stolen from their Romford home for the fourth time last July.
The statues of the comedians were gifted to Mr Elliott by his partner four decades ago and he was in hospital receiving a bone marrow transplant at the time that the statues were stolen. After almost a year of waiting to be reunited with the statues a businessman called Dean Floyd increased the reward for the safe return of the statues from £5,000 to £10,000.
After almost having given up hope of ever seeing the meaningful statues again, police found the Laurel and Hardy statues by a ‘pure fluke’. Lesley told the PA news agency: “I just couldn’t believe it when the police told me they’d found them, especially as they went missing the day Pete went in for a bone marrow transplant.
“It was a pure fluke that the police found them. They were carrying out a search when they found them under some blue tarpaulin in a lock-up garage. They told me that one of the officers, Pc Jo McCarthy, recognised them and said, ‘That’s Laurel and Hardy, they’ve been stolen’.
“Pete couldn’t believe it when I told him they had been found – he was really, really pleased. We really thought they’d gone. Especially when Dean upped his reward to £10,000 and no-one came forward. It’s a lot of money and I really thought someone would ring up and say ‘Oh, my mate’s got them in his garage.’ So Pete is over the moon, he really is. He couldn’t believe they were back. I can’t believe they’re back.”
This is not the first time the fibreglass statues have been stolen from the East London couple over the years and they were last returned to Lesley and Peter in 2018 after being taken three years earlier in 2015.
The statues are well-known by locals as they have often featured as part of an elaborate Christmas display organised by he pair for charity, when the statues are in their possession, that is. Mr Floyd, who offered the reward on behalf of his construction company Chigwell Group, said: “I am absolutely over the moon that the Laurel and Hardy statues have now been returned to their rightful owners.
“When I was told of the theft I acted immediately to offer a £10,000 reward for their safe return, but when no information came forward, like many others feared they’d never be seen again. So we were as surprised and delighted as everyone else to hear that the boys had been found and will soon be back on display and again play a central part in some of the local community fundraising activities.”
A spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Police said: “The statues were recovered as part of a search in relation to a separate police investigation. We are delighted that we’ve been able to reunite Laurel and Hardy with their owner.”