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Homeless gnomes gather dust in France

French actress Audrey Tautou sits next to arguably the world's most famous garden gnome in a scene from the 2001 film "Amelie."

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PARIS, France (Reuters) -- A French police station has been stuck with a room of homeless garden gnomes, victims of a wave of gnome abductions, after a new bid to trace their owners failed.

Only a trickle of people showed up for Monday's "gnome return day" at the police station in Saint-Die-des-Vosges, near the eastern city of Strasbourg, and only one person was reunited with a stolen gnome, police said.

About 75 kidnapped gnomes were recovered in 2001 after a group called the Garden Gnome Liberation Front released them, leaving them on the steps of the Saint-Die-des-Vosges cathedral.

Police have yet to reunite 43 of the gnomes with their owners.

"In wanting to set them free, the Liberation Front has virtually imprisoned them," policeman Sylvain Brucker told Reuters, adding the local prosecutor could decide to sell the kitsch garden ornaments in a police auction.

"Perhaps there are people with gardens who would like to adopt them," he said.

Copyright 2003 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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