A local business owner says a wannabe thief that uses different disguises has been trying to break into his Westwood tennis shop for the last several weeks.
The most recent break-in attempt at Richard Hartman’s sporting good store, located in the 1000 block of Gayley Avenue, occurred just after 4 p.m. on Sunday, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
“Somebody’s been trying to break into my shop for probably the last two months,” Hartman, the owner of Westwood Sporting Goods, told KTLA. “They’ve been sticking screws in my door and breaking it, so I can’t get in the shop.”
Store surveillance cameras captured a man dressed as sheriff’s deputy trying to gain entry into his shop. Just a few weeks after that, cameras caught a man who appeared to be dressed in a firefighter’s jacket trying to get inside the sporting goods store. Hartman believes it’s the same thief.
“It’s getting very annoying,” the store owner said. “He’s tried to break in at least seven times. I’ve replaced the locks at least five or six times. It’s very frustrating. It’s cost me over $1,000 in locksmith fees.”
Hartman said the crook is always wearing a mask, making it impossible to see his face. In one instance, the thief did get into the shop, but immediately exited when the alarm went off. The shop owner told his wife to call 911 and spotted the crook in the rear alley.
“I drove my van down the alley, jumped out of my car and said, ‘Hey!’ and he looked at me and started running, so I started chasing him,” Hartman explained.
When he called 911 himself, police told him to stop chasing the suspect because the man could be armed. That’s when Hartman said the crook jumped into a silver 2023 Lexus convertible.
“Knock it off,” is what he said he’d like to tell the wannabe chameleon burglar. “If he has a problem, come on in and let me know what the problem is. He wants a racket, let me know.”
According to the shop owner, police said they can’t really do anything about the attempted break ins, but that they have beefed up patrols in the area and that he sometimes sees a police car patrolling near his back door.