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Stolen Dennis the Menace statue found across the country 9 years later

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City of Monterey

Here’s a mystery for you: A bronze statue of cartoon character Dennis the Menace was stolen from a playground in California in October 2006. It reappeared this week in Florida. What happened?

Back to the beginning: Cartoonist Hank Ketcham, who created the Dennis the Menace comic strip in 1951, commissioned the statue. Animator Wah Ming Chang sculpted the three-foot-tall bronze Dennis, which was placed on the playground in Monterey, Calif., in 1988.

The night of Oct. 25, 2006, the Dennis statue vanished from the Dennis the Menace playground, and the city offered a $5,000 reward for its return. (Ketcham passed away in 2001, so he wasn’t around for either the statue’s theft or its reappearance.)

Almost a decade passed with no sign of the little bronze menace — until Friday, that is, when Monterey city officials officially announced that the statue had been recovered at Brothers Scrap Metal in Orlando, Fla., where it had arrived on Aug. 22. The statue was set to be melted down, until the owner’s daughter-in-law recognized the character.

Law enforcement officials in Florida and California are working together to figure out what happened to it in the nine-year interim. The statue will soon be moved back to the Dennis the Menace playground in Monterey, where it can finally resume getting dirty, breaking things, and terrorizing curmudgeonly retirees. 

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