For Harvey Steadly, the disappearance of "Emily" was not just a theft; it was an "abduction."

Sometime between the night of Aug. 31 and the morning of Sept. 1, "Emily" -- a 3-foot-tall cast bronze statue of a girl reading the Emily Dickinson poem, "As Children Bid the Guest `Good Night' " -- was stolen from his Tanglewood Lane property, Steadley said. He reported the incident to police, but is also appealing to anyone who may know anything about the theft or the statue's whereabouts.

Steadly said the statue is valued between $1,000 and $1,500. But he and his wife, Dolores, would like to see the statue returned for reasons other than its monetary worth.

"We had an attachment to it," he said. "We both feel that we've lost a part of our extended family."

Westport Police Capt. Foti Koskinas said that his department is investigating the theft, but chances are "slim" that the statue will be found. He added that often in cases like this, the culprit is motivated more by emotion than greed.

"It's common that someone would take it because they've taken a liking to it," he said.

Despite the unlikelihood of Emily being returned to the Steadlys, Koskinas said that law-enforcement agencies have more resources these days for tracking down stolen property.

"You'd be surprised how many things get stolen and end up on Craigslist or ebay," he said.

Recovering by online Emily sleuthing may be the Steadlys' best hope. Harvey Steadly said that his neighbors had no information that could provide potential leads in the case, and that he has no clues to help investigators other than seeing a dark-colored, four-door car that pulled up and turned around in his driveway a day or two before Emily was taken. Steadly said the driver may have been the perpetrator scoping out the property beforehand.

Emily weighs between 50 and 75 pounds, Steadly estimated, and could fit into the trunk of a sedan. However, he acknowledged that it would be very difficult to confirm whether the car he saw was involved with the theft.

Steadly remains "hopeful, but I'm not optimistic" about finding Emily.

Koskinas said that theft and burglary rates in Westport have held steady in the last couple of years. At the same time, he added, police across Fairfield County are working more effectively because of stronger collaboration among the departments.

The improved coordination initially came about in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to promote more effective communication among police and a more efficient response in the event of another attack. But, Koskinas noted, that the new unified approach also had an effect on the police response to more common situations.

"If somebody gets arrested for burglary in Darien, next thing we know it's the same guy doing all the local burglaries," he said of information sharing between Westport and other area police departments.

The Steadlys acquired Emily around seven years ago at a market for local artisans at Seneca Lake in New York state.

Reflecting on Emily's importance to his wife and him, Steadly remembered how the statue quickly became more than a material possession for them.

"I never thought that I'd like a statue on my lawn. But this was a very attractive, very simple statue," he said. "Occasionally, I would sit on the bench near it, and look over at it and say a few words to it, almost as if it were a member of the family."