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Bust of surfing legend stolen

August 08, 2008|Rong-Gong Lin II | Times Staff Writer

The bronze likeness of the man who popularized surfing in Southern California 101 years ago has gone missing.

The 31-year-old bust of George Douglas Freeth Jr. was stolen from its concrete foundation on the Redondo Beach Pier, police said Thursday.

Bronze is 88% copper. The soaring price of the metal has made copper a target for thieves.

Freeth left Hawaii in 1907 and landed in Southern California, where beachgoers were awed at the sight of a man riding the waves just off Venice on a 200-pound, 8-foot-long solid wood surfboard.

Freeth later developed the first lifeguarding techniques, which were disseminated nationwide. For his efforts, he was honored with the Congressional Gold Medal, the nation's highest civilian honor for bravery.

Freeth died in the global flu pandemic in 1919 at 35.

Police said they had no suspects in the theft.

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ron.lin@latimes.com

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