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News Release

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Media Relations

Prolific Ghost Burglar NR17309pv

Woodland Hills: Los Angeles detectives are asking the public's help in identifying a prolific commercial burglar, they dubbed the Ghost. He has broken into more than 40 closed businesses in the west San Fernando Valley since mid-July, 2017.

"Until this week, we had no idea what the Ghost looked like, other than he was hooded and gloved," explained Lt. Paul Weber, commanding officer of the Topanga Detective Division. "We assumed he was a man; now it appears he is Asian, in his twenties." Detectives linked him to crimes by videos.

Over the last several weeks, police have attacked the crime spree in several ways: educating business owners, posting no-cash-on-premises signs on business doors, conducting stakeouts, using undercover officers, placing decoy cars, and detaining burglar parolees. Detectives have noted the burglar is careful to hide at the sight of any passing car lights. He has lain hidden for as long as 30 minutes before smashing in a window or a door. All the businesses hit have been along Ventura Boulevard or Topanga Canyon Boulevard, as far north as Sherman Way.

Franklin Hardware became one of the 43 businesses broken into on October 4, 2017. Its co-owner, Michael Kurzeka, is the third-generation proprietor for the store that's been a local landmark since 1952. "Our store is an extension of our home," Mike said. "When you see some hooded guy rummaging through your place, it's frustrating and violating. That's why I want to help the police to catch him!"

"The break-in cost Franklin Hardware nearly $1000 in repairs. Most often, the burglar's take is far less than the damage he causes," Lt. Weber added. "We encourage businesses to leave registers open with the till empty and lying on top, to show there's no money to be had. The hope is burglars won't waste their time breaking in."

Anyone with information in this case is urged to call Det. Amber Kim, Topanga Detective Division, at (818) 756-5844. Anonymous tips can be called into Crimestoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477), or by texting 274637 (C-R-I-M-E-S on most keypads) with a cell phone. All text messages should begin with the letters "LAPD." Online tips may be placed at www.LAPDOnline.org, click on "webtips" and follow the prompts.

MEDIA ONLY:
Media outlets may record video of the suspect off a monitor at the Topanga Police Station. Mr. Kurzeka's store number is (818) 347-6800. Store opens at 8AM.


Anyone with information in this case is urged to call Det. Amber Kim, Topanga Detective Division, at (818) 756-5844. Anonymous tips can be called into Crimestoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477), or by texting 274637 (C-R-I-M-E-S on most keypads) with a cell phone. All text messages should begin with the letters "LAPD." Online tips may be placed at www.LAPDOnline.org, click on "webtips" and follow the prompts.

MEDIA ONLY: Media outlets may record video of the suspect off a monitor at the Topanga Police Station. Mr. Kurzeka's store number is (818) 347-6800. Store opens at 8AM.

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