Someone has walked off with Gregory Peck at the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Thieves equipped with a concrete saw cut through terrazzo and concrete to hoist out the pink, five-pointed star that frames a movie camera emblem and the late actor's bronzed name, authorities in Hollywood said Tuesday.
"It happened just before Sunday's Hollywood Christmas Parade. We have no idea where it is," said Johnny Grant, who serves as Hollywood's honorary mayor and oversees the chamber's sidewalk salute to celebrity.
Civic leaders at first thought the 43-year-old sidewalk star might have been removed as part of some sort of construction project. But they quickly determined that none of the city's departments was doing work beneath the Walk of Fame.
"We covered over the hole before the parade so nobody would get hurt," Grant said. "We wanted to replace it right away."
The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce hastily began replacing the missing star with a new one as Los Angeles police late Tuesday began an investigation. By nightfall, the partially finished star bore the name "Gregory P."
Peck's star, at 6100 Hollywood Boulevard near Gower Street, is the fourth star to be stolen since the Walk of Fame was begun in 1960 with the placement of actress Joanne Woodward's star. More than 2,000 of them are now showcased along the walkway.
About five years ago stars honoring actors Jimmy Stewart and Kirk Douglas were taken from Vine Street, where they had been temporarily dislodged for a construction project. They were eventually recovered, but not before replacement stars were ordered.
"The police in South Gate called and said they had the two stars in their evidence room lockup," Grant said. "They'd recovered them when they arrested a fellow involved in an incident there and searched his house." It turned out that the suspect was a construction worker involved with the Vine Street project. The stars of Stewart and Douglas were found to have been badly damaged and were unusable.
On another occasion, a star honoring Gene Autry was swiped from another sidewalk construction area. Grant later received an anonymous call reporting that the missing star was in Iowa.
"The chamber never got that star back. Someday it will end up on EBay," Grant said. Autry's star was eventually replaced with a new one.
"Even in the early days they stole the good ones," he said, noting the A-list celebrity standings of Peck, Stewart, Douglas and Autry.
Peck's star is located near that of the late comedian Lucille Ball. Ironically, in an episode of her "I Love Lucy" show, Ball once tried digging up John Wayne's footprints from the forecourt at Grauman's Chinese Theatre.
Authorities said Walk of Fame vandals sometimes attempt to chisel out the brass emblems that denote the stars' categories as film, television, recording, radio or stage.
But new video surveillance cameras being installed along the Walk of Fame may put an end to that.
"They hadn't gotten to Hollywood and Gower with them yet," Grant said. "One of the next cameras is supposed to go in right there."