A 54-year-old man from Fayetteville, Georgia was arrested after he allegedly stole a bronze statue from The Equestrian Hotel at the World Equestrian Center.
On Thursday, February 17, a Marion County Sheriff’s Office deputy responded to the hotel located at 8510 NW 17th Lane in Ocala in reference to a theft.
Upon arrival, the deputy spoke with the security staff at the hotel who advised that two men were acting suspiciously in the lobby. The men, according to the staff, appeared to be looking for security cameras.
The deputy reviewed the security footage and both men were observed looking around the lobby area. One of the men was wearing a light-colored polo shirt while the other man was wearing a gray sweatshirt.
Shortly before 12:30 a.m., both men were seen on the security footage entering the lobby bathroom near the elevators and the Yellow Pony Pub and Garden. A few minutes later, the man in the polo exited the bathroom, and the man in the gray sweatshirt followed him while holding what appeared to be a porcelain vase, according to the MCSO report. Both men proceeded to walk out of the hotel.
At around 12:38 a.m., the man in the gray sweatshirt walked back inside the hotel and sat on a white bench in the lobby near the Yellow Pony Pub and Garden. The deputy observed the footage as the man looked at a bronze dog statue that was located next to the bench.
After looking at the statue several times, the man managed to pick it up and he exited the hotel with it. The men drove away in a 2019 GMC Sierra, and a witness recorded the truck’s license plate number.
On Friday, February 18 at around 11:35 a.m., the deputy was notified by World Equestrian Center security personnel that the truck had been located. The vehicle had backed into a parking space near the RV Park.
The deputy responded to the location and spoke with the owner of the truck. The man stated that he was at the hotel the previous night with his friend, David Heiman, and they were drinking at Yellow Pony Pub and Garden.
According to the truck’s owner, they spent most of the night in the bar. When they were leaving the hotel, he stated that Heiman brought the statue back to the truck, and he told Heiman to get rid of it. Heiman allegedly placed the statue behind a section of bushes near the RV Park.
Heiman was sleeping inside the vehicle. When he woke up, he confirmed that he had been drinking the previous night. He stated that he did not want to talk about the incident any further since he did not have a clear mind.
The deputy searched the bushes near the RV Park for the statue and observed an area where the dirt and mulch appeared to be disturbed, but the statue was not located. According to the hotel, the statue was valued at $4,500.
Heiman was arrested, transported to Marion County Jail, and he was later released on $2,000 bond. He is facing a felony charge for grand theft (less than $5,000).
A court date has not been scheduled yet, according to jail records.