The Townley Gallery reported a sculpture was stolen Friday evening, and the gallery’s owner believes it could be connected to other art thefts in the area.
According to police and the gallery, a man walked into the gallery at 570 S. Coast Hwy. around 7 p.m. and grabbed a sculpture when owner Shane Townley had his back to him.
Townley said he was giving a couple directions to a nearby restaurant when the man slipped in without his knowledge and then left with the artwork.
The stolen glass sculpture by artist Patrick Blythe is valued at $2,000.
The entire incident was caught on the gallery’s video surveillance system, which was installed after a $10,000 bronze sculpture was stolen more than a year ago.
According to the video, the man put the sculpture under his coat and walked out.
Townley said he believes the suspect had mistaken the dark glass sculpture for bronze. He said he’s heard that people steal bronze to melt down and sell.
The gallery’s report describes the suspect as 6 feet tall, 220 pounds with dark hair. At the time, he was wearing a black jacket and light jeans.
This theft came only a week after the Village Gallery at 502 S. Coast Hwy. reported a similar incident. After conferring with owner Pamela Brown, who also has surveillance images, Townley said he believes the two incidents could be by the same person.
On Oct. 22, Brown said a man is seen on her video “staking out” the gallery, walking in and out a couple times before eventually removing a sculpture from a cabinet and setting it on the ground. She said he then went outside, came back in and put it in a bag.
“It seemed that he was staking out that particular piece because it looked like he was taking a picture of it and talking on the phone to someone,” Brown said, referring to the video footage.
The bronze sculpture by Sherri McKuen is valued at $3,295.
Brown said she hadn’t experienced theft before, but remarked that she heard other galleries in the city have been affected.
Lt. Jason Kravetz said there is no information at this time to indicate it is the same person in both incidents.
Anyone with information is urged to contact the Laguna Beach Police Department at (949) 497-0701.