BY JAIMIE JULIA WINTERS
The theft of a clock reportedly valued at $100,000 from the former Pig & Prince restaurant located in the historic Lackawanna Plaza is being investigated by police.
A Pig & Prince employee reported it missing on July 9, police said.
Although neither the police nor the Pig & Prince owner will confirm if it’s the clock original to building, its value has some historians questioning if it’s the bronze one that has hung in the historic Lackawanna Train Station, the site of the recently closed restaurant, since 1913.
Pig & Prince owner and chef Mike Carrino recently held an auction of wares after deciding to move out of the space, which he had been leasing since 2012 from Pinnacle and Hampshire Cos. The property was recently approved for a housing and retail redevelopment by Pinnacle and Hampshire, with the condition that the train waiting area, which housed the Pig & Prince, be retained in perpetuity due to its historic value.
“Yes, I am concerned because it is a piece that should never have been touched,” Carrino told Montclair Local, using an expletive to describe the alleged “thief.”
Carrino would say no more, only that the police have a lead and could be investigating someone who was picking up items purchased from the June 25 auction.
Police are conducting interviews and gathering video surveillance in search of the clock and the person who removed it. They confirmed they are investigating a lead, and that $5,000 worth of alcohol was also taken at the same time.
Neither the clock nor the alcohol were part of the auction and were not supposed to have been removed, said Montclair Police Sgt. Terence Turner.
“The restaurant was recently closed and the owner was in the process of auctioning off various items i.e. chairs, tables, stools, etc.,” Turner said. “The clock was located inside of the restaurant. As far as whether or not it was original to the building, I don’t have that information. It is still under investigation and we are trying to recover it for the owner as soon as possible.”
If it’s the same 1913 clock, its location — about 30 feet above the ground — and its 300-pound weight indicates that removing it was no easy feat.
“It would take some major planning and a pretty tall ladder, or unusual access to the building, to remove and carry off. If this clock is indeed stolen, that is a vile action and enormous loss to the historic fabric of this landmark train terminal,” said Lisanne Renner, a Montclair preservationist and historian.
Seven years ago, Carrino completely renovated the historic train waiting area building, which had housed a Blockbuster Video immediately prior to him taking over. The train station closed in 1981.
Carrino removed drop ceilings to reveal original chandeliers that hang from 50-foot arched sky-lit ceilings, and he exposed the original brick walls and tiled flooring. He also retained original fixtures, such as the station’s water fountain and paper cup shelves, as well as the now-non-functioning clock. He was set the clock at 8:24 in memory of the date of the Pig & Prince’s opening, Aug. 24.
Brian Stolar of Pinnacle Cos. said all the existing fixtures will remain with the building. He did not comment on the clock or the future safekeeping of the historic fixtures housed at Lackawanna Plaza.