Con-Artist Linked to Downtown Thefts Includes recent theft from Israeli Basketball Team NR09518PV

October 28, 2009

Los Angeles:  Los Angeles police detectives have linked an apparent con artist to the October 20, 2009, locker room theft of cash and jewelry belonging to the visiting Israeli basketball team.  They have released photos to aid in identifying the suspect who is also suspected in thefts from downtown hotels.

“We’ve released the photos and video in the hopes someone will recognize this man,” said Lt. Paul Vernon, head of detectives downtown.  “My detectives have linked this man to two other thefts from downtown hotels going back to August.”

After looking at surveillance footage from the Staples Center, detectives noticed the close similarity between that suspect and a man suspected in conning his way into hotel rooms belonging to a visiting Salsa band and a professional soccer team.

August 29, 2009, thirty Salsa musicians were booked to play the Greek Theater.  A Hispanic man with slicked-back hair convinces a desk clerk at the Wilshire Grand Hotel that he is part of the salsa group and needs pass cards to rooms.  He gives the desk clerk a music CD in thanks for the help.  Over $9,000 was later discovered missing from several rooms.  Security footage captured the interloper’s image.

September 22, 2009, this same suspect, wearing a Chivas jersey greets and hugs members of the Chivas soccer team as they leave the Marriot Hotel on a bus.  He turns, walks up to the desk clerk, and convinces the clerk to give him room keys.  Over $10,000 was later reported missing from the soccer players’ rooms.

October 20, witnesses at Staple Center remembered seeing this suspect earlier in the day, before the basketball game with the Clippers.  At one point, the man was thrown out for not having proper credentials.  “Apparently he returned, dressed in a suit, holding a clipboard, and with some kind of credential sticking out of his pocket,” Lt. Vernon said.  A ball boy saw the man in the Israeli team’s locker room after the players went on the court, but the ball boy assumed the man worked at Staples.  Eleven players reported over $26,000 in cash and jewelry missing when they returned to the locker room.  Witnesses and security narrowed the suspect to this Hispanic man in his forties with slicked-back hair.

“Detective Mike Brausam deserves the credit for linking these incidents,” Vernon added.  “It was a good catch.  It was the slicked-back hair style that really stood out.”

Anyone with information is asked to call LAPD Commercial Crimes Division at 213-485-2524.   Tipsters may also call the 24-hour, toll free number at 1-877-LAPD-24-7 (527-3247), or text “crimes” by cell phone.  Begin all messages with “LAPD.”  Tipsters may remain anonymous.
Lt. Vernon or Det. Brausam will be available for interviews at Central Police Station between 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.