Looters make it a one-two punch for businesses L.A. EARTHQUAKE--AFTERSHOCK

January 18, 1994|By Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES -- Throughout Los Angeles -- from the San Fernando Valley, to downtown, to Hollywood -- the looting began almost as soon as the ground stopped shaking.

Looters stole purses in downtown Los Angeles. They grabbed coffee mugs and T-shirts at the Wax Museum on Hollywood Boulevard. They stole a 10-inch wooden spear and a stuffed fox at a taxidermy shop.

Los Angeles police made more than 25 arrests and responded to dozens of looting reports. Reports of looting spanned the city and the alleged thieves ranged in age from teen-agers to silver-haired dowagers. Still, most police stations received only sporadic reports of problems in the hours after the 6.6 magnitude temblor struck at 4:31 a.m. PST.

"This was no free-for-all," said Officer Karen Owens.

But victimized business owners were angry after having to contend with a one-two punch -- an earthquake and then the looting. At the Sherman Oaks Antique Mall, owner Rick Johnson said that one of his assistants who arrived at 5:30 a.m. saw "a couple of little old ladies making off with a a silver tea service."

Outside a women's clothing store in downtown Los Angeles, two men were caught with armfuls of dresses, with the price tags still attached.

Inside a San Fernando Valley video store, police caught three film buffs as they perused the movie selections.

Some property owners took matters into their own hands after they heard reports of looting after the quake. Dan Vandermeulen, the Neighborhood Watch coordinator at a mobile home park, stood guard -- armed with a pistol.

"We will be out all night," he told a reporter. "Put this in your paper -- tell looters we will shoot them. Period."

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