By Sharna Johnson: Freedom New Mexico
A scale model F-16 stolen from Clovis High School on Aug. 17 was recovered unscathed Saturday morning.
Around 9 a.m., police received a report that the 1/8-scale jet was lying in a ditch at Curry Roads 16 and G.
Capt. Patrick Whitney said sheriff’s deputies and police responded to the scene and found the jet undamaged at the side of the road near the edge of a field.
“It sounds like somebody wanted it to be found,” he said. “The heat was on.”
Theft of the jet from the CHS grounds where it was displayed was captured on a surveillance camera at the school but officials were unable to make out the two culprits.
“At least it’s not what I thought it would be; I thought it would be damaged,” said Assistant Principle Mike Rutledge, who was on hand to recover the plane and return it to the high school Saturday.
The plane, though covered in dust from the nearby county road, didn’t appear to be damaged. A Curry County Sheriff’s deputy and Clovis police officers helped load the plane into the bed of a pickup truck and it was on its way back to the high school.
A $700 reward was offered Thursday for the jet’s safe return or information leading to a conviction.
The $2,500 value of the plane made the theft a felony.
School officials said previously the model, made by Martin-Marietta in Fort Worth, Texas, was on loan to the school from Lockheed Martin and the plane was previously mounted in front of the F-16 squadron at Cannon Air Force Base.
The model was brought to CHS after the F-16s left Cannon.