A statue of footballer David Beckham with a valuation of more than £15, has been stolen from the back garden of a home in the West Midlands town of Halesowen.
The statue, which stands three feet tall - six inches taller than Beckham himself - depicts the star with his foot on a ball, steadying it. The pose signifies what the player should have done before taking the ill-fated penalty which sent England out of the Euro 2004 championships against Portugal.
Ron Dribble, owner of the piece, made from copper-clad steel by artist Mark Hebblewhite, has told police that he awoke around 2am to what he describes as a loud "grinding sound", as if something was being dragged along the ground. This was followed by a screeching of wheels, and two witnesses say they saw a van speeding away from the scene.
The real David Beckham is due to be unveiled on Friday at his new club LA Galaxy, who are dithering around the foot of the USA Western Division. Executives at the club have promised fans immediate success, and expect the 32-year-old England midfielder to deliver.
Galaxy's president Sexi Lalala said on the club's website:
"We are gonna win the league and everything else in sight! On top of that, fans should watch out for our great new statue!"