Authorities grew suspicious when they noticed two men driving a car with a matching wolf on the roof.
Another painted wolf statue went missing in Abingdon over the weekend – but this time the statue was recovered and two men were arrested.
Bascome Howell, 44, and his brother, Ernie Howell, 37, both of Pine Hill Road, were arrested near the intersection of Reedy Creek and Harleywood roads around 11:20 a.m. Sunday, said Washington County Sheriff Fred Newman.
Ernie Howell was charged with grand larceny and being intoxicated in public. Bascome Howell was charged with accessory to grand larceny, third offense driving under the influence, refusing a breathalyzer test and driving suspended.
The wolf is one of about two dozen painted statues on display around town as public art. They will be auctioned in November as a fundraiser for Advance Abingdon, a downtown development organization.
The wolf taken Sunday from the corner of Cummings and Main streets, titled Anubis Virginius, was the third to be stolen since the wolves were unveiled in June.
The theft was spotted by a town public works employee, who reported it and then followed the vehicle to help police, the sheriff said.
Two wolves disappeared in late June, just after they were put on display, and reappeared days later following a plea by town officials who promised not to charge anyone.
Newman said he does not believe the latest theft is connected to the earlier capers.
Greg Mercier, who took photos of the arrest from across the street Sunday morning said it was “just comical pulling out of the driveway and seeing those guys pulled over and that wolf sitting on the car.”
Myra Cook, tourism director for the town, said she’s “just grateful that it’s back and unharmed.”
“We hope to see those wolves out even past the wolf auction in November,” she said. “We hope that whoever buys them at auction will continue to have them out for the public to enjoy.”