$10 Million Art & Car Theft in LA Proves Not All Burglaries are Random Acts

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I’ve often posted that the average burglary in the US – the one that happens roughly every 14 seconds, according to the FBI – is a fairly random act. By that I mean that the average intruder enters a neighborhood looking for an easy mark, as opposed to targeting a particular home because of its contents. That’s why it’s so important to make your home less attractive to thieves (and here are some great tips for doing just that). But a major theft in LA provides a notable exception to the rule, as reported in this recent news report.

Cops this week were looking for the thieves who cleaned out a Santa Monica home left alone earlier this month by a resident on a “trip.” The $10 million-plus haul included “numerous” art works, including a piece by Jasper Johns, a 2010 Porsche and a handful of watches, including a Patek Philippe.

According to the police report, this “trip” lasted only two days. It’s hard to imagine that this was a random act, especially when valuable art was involved. Most burglars look for things on a short and standard list that are cash or easily converted to cash (here’s the list).

Details on What was Stolen

The Los Angeles Times ID’d the poor (and by that we mean temporarily unfortunate) guy as Jeffrey Gundlach, a CEO, investor and onetime bond trader. Other artists included Philip Guston, Franz Kline and Piet Mondrian. The Porsche is a 2010 Carrera 4S. There was also cash missing, police said. Cops say the theft was reported exactly one week ago when the victim came home and discovered the residence in Santa Monica’s tony North-of-Montana Avenue district had been burgled hardcore.

So, what about a burglar alarm? It’s hard to believe that anyone would exhibit this kind of private collection in a home that was not protected by monitored home security – and most probably by a state-of the art system with safer cellular monitoring. There is no mention of any alarm protection whatsoever – and to me, that fact alone is interesting, if not suspicious. It would be hard to insure these paintings without such a system. But at least this story ends well for Mr. Gundlach…

Suspects Arrested, Paintings Recovered

Two suspects were arrested and found with about $10 million worth of art stolen from the home of a Southern California financier, Santa Monica police said Thursday. The theft of the paintings made waves in both the art world and on Wall Street, where the victim, star bond trader Jeffrey Gundlach, does business. They were the priciest part of the major burglary where the thieves also took expensive watches, wine and a Porsche Carrera 4S, which were not recovered. “The focus was on recovering the artwork, and it was all recovered,” Gundlach told the Los Angeles Times.

Good Old Fashioned Police Work

“The thieves had worked on moving the property, but we were able to get a good lead and apprehend them. It’s a great day for the art world.” Most of the paintings were found when authorities, working on a tip from local police, served a search warrant on a car stereo store in Pasadena, Sgt. Richard Lewis said in a statement. The investigation then led to a home in nearby San Gabriel, where police arrested Wilmer Cadiz, 40, and found him in possession of four more paintings. One final painting was found at a home in Glendale, and police said the person found with it is cooperating in their investigation. There is no known connection at this time between the victim and the suspected thieves, Lewis said.

Clearly this was not your average burglary. But even in this high-stakes heist, the thieves were not very smart, which is why they were caught – and the stolen art recovered. I’m still wondering about the alarm system (or lack thereof). Perhaps there was indeed a robust home security scheme, and Mr. Gundlach simply neglected to arm the system when he left. Then again, I am also at a loss to explain why only one in five US homes has a monitored alarm system, with a burglary occurring every 14 seconds!

It makes sense to do everything you can so your home is not a target, even to the random intruder. You can start with installing a monitored alarm system. Your peace of mind is worth a lot. And while you’re shopping, make sure you check out FrontPoint – the leader in wireless home security, and the #1 ranked alarm company in the US. You don’t need expensive art to justify the modest investment – just the natural desire to protect your home and family.

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