A statue of famous Dr. Seuss character The Lorax has been stolen from the late author's estate in San Diego, California.

The bronze artwork of the character, featured in the book of the same name and a new movie starring Zac Efron, was standing on a tree stump at the children's writer's hilltop home, but it was reported missing on Monday.

Dr. Seuss - real name Theodor Geisel - died in 1991 aged 87. The statue was one of two made by his stepdaughter, and the writer's widow, Audrey, still lives at the property.

San Diego police Lieutenant Andra Brown tells Reuters, "We don't know if it's just a prank because of the recent release of the movie or if someone thinks it's going to be worth a buck or two because it's a lot of (metal). We're just hoping that the suspects return it.

"The Geisel family is just asking that it be returned and they don't want to pursue the matter any further. Which is not to say the police won't."