Thief steals U.S. Marine statue from elderly veteran in Spring Hill

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The Hernando County Sheriff's Office is hoping to locate the thief that stole a priceless statue from an 88-year-old veteran's home in Spring Hill. 

You would only have to talk to former Marine Al Sulfridge for a few minutes to figure out that he's proud to say he served his country. 

"I always wanted to be a Marine," said Sulfridge of Spring Hill. "And I'm still a Marine."

Although his years spent fighting in the Korean War would be impossible to forget, he remembers his time through photos and mementos that he displays proudly both inside his home and on his front lawn. The keepsakes displayed on his front lawn making it easy for a heartless thief to snatch one of those memories away. 

"I had a statue of a Marine out there, and somebody wanted it, so they came up there and grabbed it," said Sulfridge. 

The four-foot statue may not hold much monetary value, but to Sulfridge, it was priceless. He spent hours repainting the soldier's uniform to match the one he once wore. 

"It's just something I love, and I sort-of made it up to my rank," said Sulfridge.

Surveillance video outside of the home caught the brazen thief in the act as he grabbed the statue and took off. 

"This is where he stood, and as you can see, they tore him out of his base. Albert had the base bolted down to concrete," explained Sulfridge's wife, Barb. "They got him, got the flag, put the flag in one hand, put him under the other arm and went off."

It's a crime Sulfridge's wife is struggling to understand. 

"We have no idea why anyone would come up here and take the Marine," she said.

Sulfridge has a message for the thief, saying he wants the statue returned and doesn't want any trouble. 

"They can bring it back," said Sulfridge. "[But if not] take care of it, that's the most important thing."

He said that even if the Marine never makes his way back home, he'll still find another way to salute his fellow troops. 

"I appreciate the Marine Corps," said Sulfridge. "I think the world of the boys that are in there now."

The Hernando County Sheriff's Office is investigating the incident. If you have any information, you're asked to contact them at 352-754-6830.