BREA : Stolen Statue Worth $250,000 Recovered

One of two life-size statues stolen outside different Brea office buildings was recovered at a scrap metal dealer about 12 miles away, authorities said Monday.

A Santa Fe Springs firefighter on an inspection call at the metal shop saw the $250,000 statue and recognized it from newspaper reports of the September theft, Brea Police Detective Bill Hudson said.

The owner of the sculpture retrieved the cast bronze figure of a businessman reading a letter on a bench after paying the dealer $145, which was about what the scrap metal shop had paid for the artwork, Hudson said.

The shop’s owner is not a suspect at this point, Hudson said.


The thieves had cut off the statue’s head and attempted to cut off the arm, Hudson said. The bronze head was found last week, but detectives declined to say where it was found, saying that information is crucial to the investigation.

The 369-pound statue, titled “Doublecheck,” was one of two bronze statues stolen from Brea Sept. 22-25. Displayed on Birch Street near Kraemer Boulevard, “Doublecheck” had been one of the most popular pieces among the 105 sculptures in the city’s Art in Public Places program, which requires major developers to spend at least 1% of their costs on art, city officials said.

The sculpture’s artist, J. Seward Johnson Jr., had been featured in Time magazine for his work.

The second statue, “Golden California,” worth at least $100,000, is of a California grizzly bear. It was taken from a building in the 1200 block of West Imperial Highway, Hudson said. The bear statue, which is eight feet tall and weighs 1,000 pounds, has not been recovered.

No arrests have been made.