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Police link man to Israeli team, Chivas thefts

Police link man to Israeli team, Chivas thefts

A man with slicked-back hair who stole $26,000 in cash and jewelry from an Israeli basketball team at the Staples Center also scammed his way into two downtown hotels to steal thousands of dollars from Chivas USA soccer players and a salsa music troupe, police said Wednesday.
Detectives linked the man to the three thefts after comparing surveillance footage from the Staples Center on Oct. 20 to video and descriptions from two hotels that had reported similar thefts in August and September, said Lt. Paul Vernon, head of detectives for downtown Los Angeles.
"It was a good catch. It was the slicked-back hair style that really stood out," Vernon said.
In the first theft, a man convinced a hotel clerk that he was part of a 30-member salsa group booked to play at the Greek Theater and needed pass cards to rooms. He gave the clerk a CD in return for the help, police said. The musicians later discovered more than $9,000 was missing from several rooms.
In the second theft, a man wearing a Chivas jersey greeted and hugged members of the Chivas soccer team as they left their hotel on a bus. He then walked up to the desk and convinced a clerk to give him room keys. Players later reported more than $10,000 missing from their rooms.
At the Staples Center, where the Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv basketball team was playing an exhibition game with the Los Angeles Clippers, witnesses remembered seeing the man before the game and threw him 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," 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 was a Staples employee.
Eleven players later reported more than $26,000 in cash and jewelry missing.