DENVER (CBS4) – Leaders at Regis University in Denver are making a public plea for the return of tens of thousands of dollars worth of bronze that was stolen from the base of a statue on campus.

The theft took place earlier this month at the northwest Denver Jesuit college. The statue is of James Joyce, the Jesuit-educated Irish writer whose ‘Ulysses’ is often considered the best novel in English literature.

The sculpture was a tribute to ‘Ulysses.’ In the book there are 18 chapters and at the bottom of the sculpture there used to be 18 bronze plates.

“There was a quote from each of those chapters on each of the plates,” said Regis administrator Dr. Tom Reynolds.

And now nine of them, imported from Ireland and valued at $30,000, are gone.

“I’m sorry to show it to you like this,” said Victoria McCabe, another Regis administrator, as she showed the statue in its current state to a CBS4 crew. The remaining nine plates have been placed in storage while police investigate the theft.

Reynolds said he thinks the thieves did their deed “probably not out of respect for great art but because the value of bronze and copper on the market has shot up.”

The night before the theft there was an odd encounter. Police say a witness caught two younger males trying to remove the plates. One, who seemed to be about 15, said he wanted the plates to build a fort and then he rode off on a scooter.

“He may have been scouting it out. Then apparently more people were spotted around campus and we think they may have been the ones who finished the job,” Reynolds said.

It’s believed the people who were seen the night before the theft live in the area.

“This wasn’t just scrap metal from a consturction facility, please, please think about the great art here,” Reynolds said.

“It’s not just a chunk of inconsiquential detail,” McCabe said.

Anyone with information is asked to call Denver police at (720) 913-2000. Remain anonymous and call Crime Stoppers at (720) 913-STOP (7867). Text to CRIMES (274637) then title DMCS and enter the message or send an e-mail to