For 11 years, Cynthia Hicks’ Buddha statue was the heart of the neighborhood.

People, young and old, would come to pay tribute to the 2-by-2-foot concrete bust next to Hicks’ garage at the corner of Harvey and Pleasant in Oak Park.

“When I first moved in, a friend told me if I put Buddhas all around the house, they would keep it safe,” Hicks said. “It was a part of the community.”

But one morning earlier this month, on her way to Farmers’ Market, she noticed the statue she bought for $7,000 in 1998 as a permanent installment was gone.

Overnight between July 2 and 3, someone lugged off the hefty statue, dragging it along the ground into the alley, leaving a trail of crumbled concrete.

Hicks noticed the statue was missing as she pulled out of her garage on the 3rd, but it didn’t really hit home until she pulled back in.

“I just thought, ‘Oh my god, it’s really gone,'” she said.

Hicks would hang beads on the neighborhood fixture for passersby and occasionally leave out miniature Buddhas.

The worst thing about it, she said, is the community’s disappointment. One little girl started crying when she came to see the statue and it was gone, Hicks said.

She’s looking into replacement options for the corner, including a similar-sized golden Buddha statue her mom bought. She’s worried the new statue isn’t heavy enough, though, to deter another theft.

But in true Bodhisattva style, Hicks is at peace with the incident.

“There’s got to be some good to come out of it,” Hicks said. “If they really needed it enough to take it, it’s OK for them to have it.”

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