Los Angeles. After two months of looking, Los Angeles detectives connected a North Hollywood apartment to a series of downtown Fashion District break-ins, going back about two months. The detectives are asking other Fashion District businesses to come forward with any recent losses as well.
"We think we’ve identified a ring of thieves responsible for burglaries going back to May or June," said Lieutenant Paul Vernon, who heads up the detective division at the Central Police Station. "We’re estimating this ring is responsible for a dozen or more thefts, totaling over half a million dollars in stolen clothes."
Beginning around late May, merchants in the Fashion District reported thefts of clothing from delivery trucks, each theft amounting to tens-of-thousands of dollars in loss. Detectives had little to go on until they linked two recent reports, July 31 and August 6. In the latter, a car break-in, a witness provided a license plate and description of a suspicious van.
On August 9, 2007, Detective Steve Stranak and his partner, Police Officer Dave Deltoro, checked out an apartment at 7350 Lankershim Boulevard in North Hollywood. While the van’s registered owner was not home, a woman inside answered the officers’ knock. "When she opened the door, we could see no end of boxes, stacked up in this little one-bedroom apartment," Stranak, a 27-year veteran, said. "It looked like the jackpot!"
The woman cooperated with detectives, who got a warrant to seize the property. It took 10 detectives about two hours just to load the still-sealed boxes of jeans, socks, underwear, and T-shirts onto a flatbed truck. They estimated the haul’s value at $50,000. "That’s only a tenth of what we think this ring of burglars might be good for," Stranak said.
Detectives did not release the names of any suspects, though they think they’ll be able to identify them soon. Detectives will analyze more thefts and try to match them to the persons and vehicles the detectives have linked to the ring.
Lieutenant Vernon can be reached at 213-972-1203. The stolen merchandise will be on display at Central Police Station for one hour, beginning at 10 AM. Still photographs will be available by email.