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'They Were Very Well Organized': Santa Monica Business Owner Says Looters Came Prepared With Duffel Bags, SUVs

SANTA MONICA (CBSLA) — Cameras caught looters running out of several Santa Monica stores on Sunday as they carried out armfuls of merchandise that belonged to businesses, big and small.

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On Monday, Jeffrey Merrihue, the owner of Heroic Italian Restaurant, opened for business despite his losses and damages.

"The vandals broke in, stole our cash machine, stole a few cases of wine," Merrihue said.

He said the people who hit his store had a plan and he had cell phone video that showed them in action.

"They were very well organized, they came with duffel bags, SUVs," he said. "They went from shop to shop. They went in, cleared out with full duffel bags, another SUV would pull up. It was very impressive actually, to be honest."

Santa Monica Police said over 400 arrests were made last night on charges included looting, violation of curfew, burglary, and assault. According to police, the vast majority, 95%, were not residents.

"They would go to the Nike store, this store, they were just telling each other where to go," said Sunnin Lebanese Cuisine owner Nicole Chammaa.

Chammaa said looters and vandals got into her Lebanese restaurant, damaged her furniture and decor, and got away with two cash registers full of cash.

"It's sad and it's very hurtful, I'm really hurt, I mean this is my baby," she said.

As Chammaa picked up the pieces at her restaurant, a countless number of volunteers came out Monday to sweep, clean, and restore the city of Santa Monica.

"It really made me weep for joy and any anger I had about yesterday quickly went away as theses wonderful individuals came to help out," said Merrihue.

As for the people who are responsible for the destruction, Chammaa and Merrihue hope they are eventually held accountable.

"I took a lot of pictures of cars that were parked in front of my restaurant down the street," said Chammaa. "I have a lot of license plates recorded on my phone."

"I wish they would be arrested and pay the price for the things they've done to this community," said Merrihue.

Santa Monica city officials are asking anyone that may have pictures or video of looting and any other criminal activity to email them at

On Monday, Santa Monica issued a citywide curfew beginning at 1:30 p.m. Monday to 5:30 a.m. Tuesday.

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