A 12-foot-tall, 350-pound wrought iron horse sculpture was stolen from a small business in El Cajon earlier this month, the bizarre heist caught on camera.
The decorative, outdoor statue was gifted to Rita Gallant and her family 10 years ago, when they bought the Double S Tack and Feed store on Olde Highway 80.
Quickly, the statue became a part of the store's identity.
"He's incredibly beautiful, very strong," Gallant told NBC 7. "He's just magical when you drive in the driveway and see him. He's really a welcoming mascot for this store."
According to Gallant, the statue has became a popular piece of art in the East County community. At least once a week, she gets an offer from someone who wants to buy it.
"People are going, 'Hey come on, sell me that horse, sell me that horse,' because he's truly just beautiful," said Gallant.
And, recently, the horse certainly caught someone's eye.
According to Gallant, the statue was taken from her business on Oct. 8, at around 2 a.m. A surveillance camera at the store caught the thief in the act.
Gallant said the suspect appeared to be strategic in the way he approached the statue.
"The video we have of him is coming across here. Normally someone would walk straight across the parking lot and head over to the horse, but he doesn't do that. He goes across the front of the store, so he avoids all these cameras," she explained.
Gallant believes the man may have prepped for the theft several days before because the horse was secured with metal stakes and a chain.
And, as the video shows, the suspect was able to lift the sculpture from its spot in about one minute and 30 seconds.
"There were one, two, three, four of these (metal stakes) in him that had to get hammered in, and he was chained to the fence. It's not something that someone can remove in one minute and thirty seconds," Gallant added.
The short amount of time it took the suspect to complete the heist has Gallant thinking he may have removed the stakes prior to coming in to steal the horse.
The business owner told NBC 7 the art piece is worth between $2,000 and $4,000. She's hoping the community rallies around her business, and helps get the horse back home.
"If I have any chance of getting him back, it's this community that will get him back," Gallant said.
Anyone who recognizes the man in the surveillance video can reach out to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department at (858) 974-2222.