SAN DIEGO (AP) - A 2-foot statue of Dr. Seuss' Lorax character was stolen from the San Diego backyard garden of the 90-year-old widow of the beloved author whose real name was Theodore Geisel.
Audrey Geisel noticed the statue and its tree-stump base were missing from the garden and were likely stolen over the weekend.
Property manager Carl Romero told U-T San Diego on Tuesday that he found footprints indicating the thieves had dragged the 300-pound statue to an access road and lifted it over a fence.
He had seen the statue Saturday afternoon, and Geisel noticed it was missing Monday morning.
Audrey Geisel's daughter Lark Grey Dimond-Cate cast two of the sculptures. One was the lone Seuss character to reside on the family's property overlooking the Pacific Ocean in La Jolla. The other sits at the Dr. Seuss National Memorial in the author's hometown, Springfield, Mass. Theodore Geisel died in 1991 at age 87.
"I want very badly to get our little Lorax back home where he belongs," Dimond-Cate said. "Wherever he is, he's scared, lonely and hungry. He's not just a hunk of metal to us. He was a family pet."
The Lorax has enjoyed special notoriety because of the recently released film version of Dr. Seuss's 1971 environmental fable, in which the mustachioed main character speaks out for the Truffula trees against corporate greed, personified by the evil Once-ler.
Dimond-Cate said she actually hopes the Lorax was stolen because of his newfound fame. Otherwise it could mean he was stolen for the bronze.
"I hope he hasn't been taken across the border into Tijuana for scrap," she said. "Worst-case scenario, I'll get the foundry to create another one, but he won't be the same."
Romero said the statue was stolen just before security cameras were installed, and few knew it was there.
The family has called San Diego police.
Romero said Audrey Geisel doesn't want to punish anyone and just wants the Lorax back.
"You can't sell it on eBay," he said.