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The art of the steal

A Florida artist whose van was stolen from a motel parking lot in October gets a "gift" from the Philadelphia Parking Authority.

Padre Pio is the unofficial patron of stress relief and New Year's blues.

Ironic solace to holiday visitors to St. Raymond's Cemetery in the Bronx, who had expected to see a new mosaic of Padre Pio and two stained-glass windows depicting the Ascension of Jesus.

It's because a creep (or creeps) in Philly stole the Florida artist's cargo van out of the parking lot of the Microtel near Philadelphia International Airport in October. (Philly hotel parking lots are murder on vans.)

Artist Paul Pickel of Vero Beach, Fla., said it was a year's work.

Pickel, whose workers were on their way to install the works at St. Raymond's, the Bronx's only Roman Catholic cemetery, said today that he was re-creating the windows. He said the mosaic would be installed next month but the windows are still a few months away.

Pickel said he got a gift in the mail the other day from Philly: a parking ticket, written up on the Olney street where cops found his van.