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The problem with looters is that they are skilled in getting away with their chosen crime, according to police.
Following the Woolsey Fire, Malibu residents have reported seven looting incidents to Malibu/Lost Hills authorities, with valuables such as diamond rings, high-end purses, Christmas presents, golf clubs and more taken from the residences. The cumulative estimated value of all stolen goods reported as of Friday, Dec. 7, exceeds $300,000.
All incidents reportedly took place while Malibu residents were evacuated from their homes, according to the reports, which were filed between Nov. 18-Nov. 28. Targeted properties were on Pacific Coast Highway, Guernsey Avenue, Wandermere Road, Cavalleri Road, Tapia Drive and Kanan Dume Road.
Detective Tom Lewis, who is part of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s burglary team and is in charge of the looting cases reported to the Malibu/Lost Hills station, said no looting arrests had been made as of Dec. 7.
“These people that go out and do these burglaries, they’re typically pretty good at getting rid of the property quickly,” Lewis said, adding that power outages also led to a lack of surveillance footage.
“ ... Obviously, they’re not obeying the law, so they’re going to go with whatever way they can to turn that property into money.”
Any DNA evidence or fingerprints would be the best bet for catching the suspects, but Lewis said he was not aware of any physical evidence in any of the Malibu cases.
During the evacuation period and the dates that the lootings reportedly occurred, police were on patrol in an effort to deter looters, and Lewis said units would have been stationed in the targeted areas.
“If a person is determined, they can get through, and it’s kind of hard to say as far as when they occurred,” Lewis said.
Further, Lewis mentioned the possibility that Malibu residents who did not evacuate from their homes could have carried out the crimes.
“It’s something that we can’t close the door on,” he said.
Lewis noted that other agencies did catch Woolsey Fire looters outside of Malibu, but those suspects have not been connected to any of the Malibu lootings at this time.