LAPD arrest man who allegedly posed as realtor to steal from celebrities
Los Angeles police said they've arrested a man who allegedly posed as a real estate agent to steal from Hollywood celebrities like Usher, Jason Derulo and Adam Lambert in what they're calling one of the most brazen and sophisticated string of burglaries they've ever seen.
Investigators said they confiscated thousands of stolen items and have posted pictures of them online, hoping people will recognize items they've lost and come forward.
For more than a year, Benjamin Eitan Ackerman allegedly posed as a real estate agent showing up at open houses driving high-end luxury cars and wearing designer clothes. The 32-year-old would sign in under an alias to case his target, returning later to steal items valued in the millions and in some cases apparently convincing unsuspecting brokers to give him access to the homes.
"When he showed up he was dressed to the nines. He acted the part," said LAPD detective Jared Timmons. "A lot of times people, we just want to be friendly. And we don't want to challenge people … and then because of that lack of challenging is how you basically invite the devil in."
According to police, Ackerman tried to cover his tracks by disabling security cameras and altering print numbers on stolen art work.
But ultimately, a tip from a victim lead them to Ackerman's home and storage unit containing more than 2,000 stolen items including jewelry, designer handbags and fine wine.
"What I thought was interesting was the wine, the alcohol, bottles of wine worth hundreds and hundreds, if not thousands of dollars … it wasn't wine you or I were drinking," said Capt. Cory Palka.
Police have identified more than a dozen victims so far, including an Ackerman family friend. He was arrested but has been released pending a forensic analysis of the evidence.
"I would want him to know that the investigation's not over … you can't go around stealing from people and you do it long enough we're going to catch you," detective Timmons said.
CBS News reached out to Ackerman's attorney but has not heard back. Police are trying to determine whether this string of burglaries is tied to another recent series of celebrity break-ins, where thieves monitored social media posts of the rich and famous to determine when they'd be out of town.
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