The Monterey County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) in California has cracked the case of a missing Dennis the Menace statue after it mysteriously disappeared a year ago.
The bronze statue of the famous comic-strip character, which went missing from Dennis the Menace Playground in Monterey’s El Estero Park last summer, was recently found by sheriff’s deputies at the bottom of Roberts Lake, about three miles away.
Officials said they received an anonymous tip regarding the statue’s whereabouts.
“Today is a happy day!” Monterey County Sheriff Tina Nieto said in a February 8 press conference. “We have found Dennis the Menace.”
According to the sheriff, the joint operation involved the MCSO and the Monterey Police Department. After receiving the tip, the sheriff’s office sent a team of divers to extract the 3-foot-tall, 120-pound statue from the lake.
The statue was then wheeled into the press conference on a handcart.
The character of Dennis the Menace was created in 1951 by longtime Monterey County resident Hank Ketcham, who passed away in 2001. The statues honoring him have a complicated history. The original model was stolen in 2006. In 2015, a Dennis the Menace statue was found in a Florida scrapyard and sent to Monterey, but officials determined it wasn’t the right one. Instead, it turned out that it belonged to a Florida hospital. The hospital allowed the California coastal town to keep that statue, which is now in front of a city parks building.
The original statue has never been found. Its replacement, installed in 2007, was stolen in August 2022 after a thief sawed through its foot to remove it.
“The Dennis the Menace statue has a well-earned characterization as ‘a symbol of the goodness and happiness of the City’ and we are all very disappointed to see criminals have taken it once again. Hundreds of daily visitors enjoyed the cheerful welcome by Dennis the Menace. We are still hoping to recover the statue,” City Manager Hans Uslar said at the time of the second theft.
Nieto said the statue recovered from the lake is believed to be the replacement Dennis the Menace, because it has a damaged foot. “We’re giving you back Dennis,” Nieto told Assistant Monterey Police Chief Mike Bruno. “Don’t let him get stolen again.”