LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Authorities today announced the arrest of a Los Angeles man who is suspected in a series of burglaries at homes in the Hollywood Hills, including houses belonging to singers Usher, Jason Derulo and Adam Lambert, and the recovery of more than 2,000 high-end items worth millions of dollars.
The stolen items were seized during a search warrant served in September at a home and storage unit belonging to Benjamin Eitan Ackerman, 32, according to Los Angeles police.
The items included high-end art work, clothing, purses, fine wine, jewelry and other “very expensive items,” according to Los Angeles Police Department Capt. Cory Palka of the Hollywood Division.
“Ackerman targeted high-end celebrity homes that were for sale or were being shown during open house appointments,” Palka told reporters.
“Ackerman would pose as either an interested buyer or in purchasing the property or he would pose as a real estate broker wanting to show the property,” Palka said. “With the assistance of the LAPD's Commercial Crimes Unit, Hollywood detectives were able to identify 13 separate burglary victims based on evidence recovered from the locker or storage unit and Ackerman's residence. We believe there may be additional victims based on the large volume of stolen property that was recovered and are asking the public's help in identifying additional victims, and most importantly, returning their property to them.”
LAPD Detective Jared Timmons estimated that the items are collectively worth “in the millions of dollars, multiple millions of dollars.”
Investigators determined that Ackerman -- who has a “criminal record” -- had signed into open houses on several occasions and asked in one instance about acquiring rare art work, the detective said.
Ackerman -- who allegedly went after “high-value targets” -- showed up to the open houses while “dressed to the nines” and “acted the part” without being challenged to confirm his identity or where he was employed, according to the detective.
“He would tour open houses and he would come back later. We're still investigating as to who he was working with and exactly how he would do that,” Timmons told reporters. “This person is very sophisticated. In a lot of these cases, we see tampered surveillance videos. We're still looking into that. As we said, open houses usually were the main source of that. However, we do have one case where he targeted a family friend, so nobody's off the table.”
Authorities are still trying to determine whether the burglaries in 2017 and 2018 are linked to a series of celebrity burglaries in which 13 reputed gang members have been charged, but “these victims appear to be separate,” Timmons said.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office has not filed a case yet against Ackerman in connection with the burglaries, with the detective saying it is “still an ongoing investigation.”
Ackerman was released from custody four days after being arrested last September by Los Angeles police, according to jail records.
Police asked anyone who believed they may have been targeted to check the website www.hollywoodburglary.smugsmug.com to see if they recognized any of the items that had been recovered.
Photo: Los Angeles Police Department