Police hunting man in NBA dressing room theft

LOS ANGELES: Police are hunting for a man in his 40s thought to be behind the alleged theft of thousands of dollars in valuables and cash from members of an Israeli basketball team at Staples Center arena.

Lt. Paul Vernon said the Hispanic suspect, who may have tried to disguise himself as an employee, was spotted by one of the ball boys in the Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv dressing room Tuesday night.

Police also described the man as wearing a suit and carrying a clipboard and having a credential badge hanging out of his pocket.

Police said the suspect was earlier kicked out of the Staples Center facility after being questioned by staff.

"He was challenged and asked to leave. He got back in," police officer Norma Eisenman told Agence France-Presse on Friday.

The 10 players lost a total of 22,000 dollars in belongings in the theft which was discovered at halftime of Maccabi's 108-96 loss to the National Basketball Association's Los Angeles Clippers. The valuables included watches, jewelry and 15,000 dollars in cash.

Police said they have video of the suspect which they hope to be able to enhance and then release to the public Monday.

Staples Center spokesman Michael Roth said Friday there are over 100 security cameras in the facility which also the home of the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Kings of the National Hockey League.

Police said the dressing room was an "open face" type without doors but Roth said the Electra dressed in the visiting NBA team's locker room.

Roth could not say whether or not there was a guard outside the dressing area Tuesday but said the general policy is to have one present.

The Staples Center game was the second of two exhibition matches Maccabi played against NBA clubs. The first game was a 106-91 loss to the New York Knicks on Sunday at Madison Square Garden.

The New York game was delayed for eight minutes when Maccabi Electra coach Pini Gershon was tossed out of the game for arguing calls

Staples Center is owned and operated by Anschutz Entertainment Group