December 12, 2013 in Nation/World

Teens arrested in looting party at California mansion

Samantha Schaefer Los Angeles Times

Detective Larry Villareal of the City of Industry, Calif., carries a mounted snow leopard, valued by the owner at $250,000, back to the evidence locker Wednesday.
(Full-size photo)

LOS ANGELES – Some teens go to a house party with wild ideas about how the night might end – but going home with a snow leopard likely isn’t one of them.

In a case that seems a cross between the Bling Ring celebrity burglars and another installment of “The Hangover,” sheriff’s officials arrested 16 people Wednesday linked to a mansion party where guests walked off with medieval armor, scuba gear, Armani suits and – the piece de resistance – a mounted snow leopard worth $250,000.

More than 100 people were estimated to have attended the party, held at a vacant, fully furnished La Habra Heights mansion that had been put on the market by the owner. La Habra Heights is east of Los Angeles.

The damage and thievery amount to at least $1 million, and Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca said the severity of the damage was so great that it ranked as one of the worst juvenile crimes he has seen.

The teens who attended the party were charged a fee to get in and, as the night wore on, a window to the home was pried open, a 16-foot window overlooking the pool grotto was smashed and some guests went into what authorities described as a “looting frenzy.”

“I don’t think they knew what they were doing. I don’t think they knew what they had,” said Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Lt. Arthur Scott.

The youth suspected of snagging the leopard told detectives he grabbed it simply because “all the good stuff was gone,” Scott said.

Told that it was worth more than $250,000, the teen asked, “How many zeros is that?” Scott said.

Those who were arrested appeared to be “kids of means,” Baca said. The teens face a range of charges, from trespassing to grand theft.

Some of the suspects essentially identified themselves by posting “selfies” with their loot to social media accounts to brag about their haul, officials said. The photos aided detectives’ efforts to find the suspects.

The investigation is ongoing and officials said they are searching for still-missing property and additional suspects including the party’s organizer. The homeowner was not identified.

Neighbors didn’t report anything amiss at the time of the party, which took place during the afternoon of Nov. 23 and early hours of Nov. 24.

A groundskeeper or house-sitter reported the break-in.

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