MONTEREY, Calif. (AP) — Dennis the Menace has been found.
A statue of the comic strip character that was stolen from a park in Monterey, California, last summer was found submerged in a nearby lake.
“Today is a happy day!” Monterey County Sheriff Tina Nieto said Wednesday at a press conference where the statue was wheeled in on a handcart.
The sheriff’s dive team found the 3-foot-tall (1 meter) statue in Roberts Lake after Monterey city police received an anonymous tip about its location.
Dennis the Menace has a big but oddly troubled local connection. His creator, Hank Ketcham, was a longtime resident of Monterey County and died there in 2001.
The park’s original statue was stolen in 2006 and hasn’t been found. Its replacement was stolen in August 2022 by someone who cut through its foot to remove it.
In the years between the two thefts a Dennis the Menace statue was found in a Florida scrap yard and was sent to Monterey, where officials determined it was not the right one, KSBW reported. It had actually been taken from a Florida children’s hospital.
The hospital allowed Monterey to keep that statue, which is now in front of a city parks building.
Nieto said it’s believed the statue found in the lake is the most recently stolen Dennis the Menace because its foot is damaged.
“We’re giving you back Dennis,” Nieto told Monterey Assistant Chief Mike Bruno. “Don’t let him get stolen again.”