Abraham Lincoln's hands

A cast of Abraham Lincoln's hands is said to be part of a project George Grey Barnard hoped to finish and display on a point of land on the Hudson River in New York. He never completed the colossal sculpture. On Monday, police say the hands went missing from the Kankakee County Historical Museum.

There is a verse in the Quran which calls for a thief's hands to be cut off as punishment for his or her crime.

Now, before you think the focus of this piece is Islamic extremism, it also should be noted the Quran includes a verse that calls for forgiveness if the thief repents. This is surely the approach that will be taken if the person or persons responsible for stealing Abraham Lincoln's hands returns them.

A sculpture of Lincoln's hands, masterfully done by famed artist George Grey Bernard, has disappeared from the Kankakee County Museum. Kankakee police have requested the public's help in relocating the treasured piece of history, which has added local value since Bernard spent part of his childhood in Kankakee before rising to prominence in the early 20th century.

The easiest path to recovery would be for the culprit or culprits to give it back. While the sculpture has great historical and sentimental value, it is relatively worthless to the average person. Unlike stolen copper, it won't command much of a price from a recycler, and only a serious art collector would pay significant money for it.

But the thieves aren't likely to find someone who fits that description. These people tend to be decent and upstanding, and aren't likely to add ill-gotten booty to their collection. If they do, they take the risk of being found guilty of possession of stolen property, because it won't be hard to identify this unique set of hands which are comparable in size to an 8- or 10-pound ham.

Chances are, this is some kind of prank and those who committed the crime have had a laugh. Now it's time to give it back. You can turn it over to the police and face a penalty, but that penalty will be harsher if the cops have to find you rather than you finding them.

While that would be the preferred method of return, a more surreptitious way would be better than doing nothing it all. Just put it in a bag, return to the museum, set it down where someone can easily find it and head off in the other direction.

The important thing is it continues to be displayed where succeeding generations can learn about the rich history of Kankakee County. We are blessed to have such a fine museum with an impressive inventory, but the collection is not complete without Lincoln's hands.

One other note: Anyone with information is asked to call the police investigations bureau at 815-933-0426.