FARGO — A fruitless month-long search for Fargo's stolen Statue of Liberty now means the city is shifting its focus to securing a replacement.

With a nearly 70-year history here in Fargo, the 8-foot tall, 300-pound statue went missing July 20. It was erected originally in Island Park in June 1952 as part of nationwide donations by Boy Scouts of America of 200 replica statues.

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Over the years, Fargo's Lady Liberty was vandalized, from red fingernails to a bucket of white paint dumped over her head. For more than 15 years, her right arm bearing a torch was missing before she was refurbished and found a new home on a pedestal near Veterans Memorial bridge.

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That pedestal remains empty today surrounded by ongoing flood wall construction. But the city hopes to put a new statue in its place.

"We are looking at replacement options," said Gregg Schildberger, spokesperson for the City of Fargo. "While we wanted that exact one back, we are looking at moving on to that next stage."

A similar statue is up for auction in North Carolina for about $1,700, he said, not including shipment costs. It's the same height as the stolen statue, but he said it's made of aluminum with an illuminated torch.

More needs to be considered before proceeding, such as whether the replacement could withstand the weather here and if it can be "secured so this won't happen again," he said.

Other options include curating a new statue, but Schildberger said that depends on cost and material. The city would prefer to have the original returned.

"We are disappointed that we cannot seem to locate the individuals that obviously took her," he said. "It is very important to members of the community to have her there. . . If there's a positive in any of it, it's that it really was one of those unifying aspects of our community that is really appreciated."

Schildberger said the city has no evidence the statue ended up in the Red River or if it was brought to a local scrap metal shop. "Could she have been used for scrap metal? That's a possibility," he said, adding the statue holds "a lot more value to the community."

Despite searching for a replacement, Schildberger said the city will investigate any leads on the theft.