Bison sculpture is gallery's latest theft

A South Coast Highway art gallery was burgled for the third time in less than a year on Wednesday. The thief took a bronze bison sculpture valued at $9,500.

Ray Redfern, owner of the Redfern Gallery at 1540 S. Coast Hwy., received a call about 6:15 a.m. from a gallery neighbor who noticed a broken window.

Police said the theft of "American Bison" occurred at 4:24 a.m.

Redfern said video surveillance indicated the person threw a river rock to break the window glass. The thief then reached through, took the sculpture and placed it in a shopping cart, Redfern said.

He suspects the perpetrator used the cart to push the 95-pound piece by Riverside County artist Mike Hart toward a possible getaway car.

Wednesday wasn't the first time the gallery, which also houses American Impressionist paintings from California plein air artists, has been robbed.

In April 2013, a 45-pound bronze moose sculpture called "Moving On," another piece by Hart, was stolen.

Video surveillance at the time revealed that a river rock was also thrown to weaken the glass, Redfern said.

The suspect then kicked through the glass to forge a hole to take the moose, Redfern said.

In August 2013, a thief stole a 3-foot-tall bronze rabbit sculpture titled "Grooming Rabbit" from outside the gallery. Tucson, Ariz., resident Mark Rossi created the bronze rabbit, Redfern said.

"I'm not sure if it's one guy who has a bronze fetish," Redfern said.

None of the animal sculptures have been located.

—Bryce Alderton

Twitter: @AldertonBryce

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