Mural stolen from East River Esplanade

Community artist Carmen Paulino is devastated after finding out her 27-panel crochet mural was stolen.

The 80 handmade pieces were put up at the East River Esplanade near 102nd St., but between late Thursday night and Friday afternoon, almost all the pieces were stolen.

"I received the news last night and it was like a nightmare. I can’t understand why someone would want to take something like that. You know, it's just, it breaks my heart," said Paulino.

The installation went up last week.

Paulino, who is known as Carmen Community Artist didn’t crochet alone. She got help from her 90-year-old grandmother and students from an East Harlem school.

It was a project of love, representing El barrio and the Hispanic community.

Paulino says it took her 6 months to finish it.

In tears, she made a plea to whoever stole it, "I can only hope that you do the right thing. Return it, no questions asked. Just return it back to either the East Harlem tutorial or the location. Just do the right thing."

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Most of the handmade mural put up on the East River Esplanade was stolen.

Jennifer Ratner, the board chair of Friends of the East River Esplanade, believes it was intentional.

"This had to be deliberate. This was almost a full day to put it up, there were put up with industrial zip ties. Someone had to come very deliberately and take this down," Ratner said.

Ratner says this is not the first time an art installation has been stolen from the esplanade. It happened twice in 2016.