One day, I got an (early morning) email from a gentleman named Luke who was working in the Middle East. He had been working there for a few years, designing palaces for the super wealthy Sheiks and Royal Families. In Luke’s absence, his house keeper Rosa comes in a few times a week to get his mail, water his plants and to take care of anything that may need to be fixed around the house. Luke, got a call from an A celebrity’s loser brother who is a D celebrity. D knew that my client’s home had been vacant for the last year and wanted to ask if one of his friends could stay at his house for a few weeks. They projected him as a really nice kid from the Midwest who was in between residences. Apparently, he didn’t have any money and was desperate for a place to live while looking for permanent housing. My client wasn’t particularly thrilled with the idea, especially since he wasn’t home, but he did it as a personal favor to A. A few days later, Rosa was at the house when she heard a knock at the door. Upon opening the door, she saw that it was a kid who was carrying a suitcase. She showed him around the house (including the room where he’d be staying), gave him a key, after which he left. A few days later, he brought a few more suitcases and moved into my client’s home. One morning, Rosa came to the house to meet an electrician when she found a things missing; Hermes dessert plates, one of Luke’s $ 3,000.00 Bentley keys ($ 3k – WTF!), and a few watches. Having worked for Luke for over 20 years, Rosa knew exactly what he had and where it belonged) She didn’t think too much about it until the next day, when she was looking for Luke’s Louis Vuitton luggage. Rosa called Luke to see how much luggage he had taken with him. Luke said he had taken a trunk, a wardrobe, and a medium size suitcase. (He had over 20 pieces of Louis Vuitton luggage) Rosa was quiet for a moment and then told Luke that the entire luggage was gone. Luke was livid!
Rosa started looking around the house and realized there was more stuff gone. Rosa and Luke knew it had to be the kid, because there hadn’t been anyone else in the house for almost a year. So the first thing she did was to call a locksmith, after which she called the police.
That night, she walked around the house to take stock of what had been stolen. Almost all of Luke’s shoes were gone, (he had over 100 pairs) place settings for 12, (one plate sells for $ 525.00) his grandmother’s antique sterling silver silverware set of 12, most of his belts, several winter coats, (one of which was personally designed by a well-known designer) pants, sweaters, shirts, scarves, cologne and a few watches. Luke estimated that the kid had stolen over $ 100,000.00 worth of stuff (that’s grand larceny). Luke didn’t care about pressing charges; he just wanted his stuff back. Once my client had the kid’s name (Tom Painter), he went on all the social media sites and found countless pictures of Tom on his Facebook page wearing my client’s clothes, eating dinner with his silverware. Even his cat could be seen eating off a Hermes dessert plate, pictures of him amongst all of the stolen Louis Vuitton suitcases! (imagine looking at a stranger’s Facebook page and seeing them in your clothes and posing with your wares. How surreal that must be). I went to my office and ran his name through my databases. Several addresses popped up, the two most recent addresses were in West Hollywood; so, I drove over there.
When I got to the first address, there was nothing but a construction site, thereby ruling out that address. The second address was just down the street. As I was pulling up to the apartment building, I saw a friend, Harry Victor that I hadn’t seen in 10 years. I ran over to my friend, gave him a hug and then asked him if he lived in the building. He said he did; so, I gave him a brief rundown of what was going on. He said that he hears two guys fighting and screaming all the time (I described what the kid looked like and Harry confirmed that was definitely him) It was truly serendipitous to have my old friend Harry Victor living in the same building that the kid lives in! As I was talking to Harry, I saw Tom out of the corner of my eye. He walked toward the back of his building with his boyfriend (they were holding hands, so I assumed that was his boyfriend). I called the client intimated him that I had traced Tom. My client was thrilled and said he was going to book a flight back to Los Angeles ASAP. We decided that I was going to start surveillance the night after my client arrived from Abu Dhabi. Two days later, I arrived at Tom’s apartment at 5:00 p.m. and waited. At about 5:30 p.m., I saw Tom emerging from his apartment and walking over to a car parked in the street. He got into the car and drove off. We ended up at a thrift store a few miles from his apartment. Next, he got out of the car and opened the trunk. He had a huge bag in his arms and walked into the store. I waited for a minute and walked in. It could be that he was trying to sell some of Luke’s stuff, but I couldn’t say for sure. He dropped the bag in a donation area and walked out of the store. I walked right behind him, got into my car, and followed him. We ended up back in West Hollywood.
Tom parked the car and walked into a house. I noted the address, called my client and my Muscle (Angelo), and waited in the car. Thirty minutes later, my client and Angelo arrived. They both parked and walked over to my car. I knew that it might be difficult for someone like me (a 5’4” inch woman) to get my client’s stuff back, so I found a guy who was extremely intimidating looking (another PI told me all about Angelo and said that he was very effective). Angelo was about 6’5” 250 pounds, crazy curly hair, beautiful green eyes and very soft spoken., calm, cool, and collected. I genuinely think that terrifies people more than someone who constantly screams and yells (when I was a kid, I always knew that I was in serious trouble when my dad spoke to me calmly). Our plan was to knock on the door and barge in. I knocked and Luke and Angelo were next to me, but out of eyesight. A small guy wearing glasses opened the door. Angelo pushed his way in and we followed. Tom was sitting on the couch when he saw all of us standing in front of him. He looked a little rattled and stood up. Luke right away noticed that Tom was wearing one of his belts. My client walked over to him and literally unbuckled the belt before pulling it off from him. That’s when Luke told Tom who he was. It looked as if Tom had the wind knocked out of him, and fell straight onto the couch. Apparently, a gentlemen (Bob) whose house we were in had been allowing Tom to stay there temporarily in exchange for _ _ _ and unbeknownst to Bob, probably storing stolen goods.
Tom was handsome, young, very tall, skinny and a Twinkie (a young gay man who sleeps with older men for money, goods, or a place to stay). Angelo went outside with Tom to engage in a conversation with my client, as I spoke to Bob and filled him in on what had been going on. Bob had no idea that Tom was a thief, but he wasn’t surprised either. Meanwhile Angelo was trying to scare the shit out of Tom. He drove him around the block several times while blasting Iron Maiden. Angelo said that unless Tom got everything back, Luke was going to press charges (it is possible to spend a long time in prison for grand larceny). Angelo made Tom tell him everything that he had done with those stolen items. As it turned out, Tom sold most of the clothes to vintage stores; he sold the table ware, silverware, suitcases and Hermes dessert plates on Craigslist. He had sold all of this stuff for pennies on the dollar. Angelo found out that there was one more location to visit besides entering Tom’s apartment. We asked Bob to call us if he found anymore of Luke’s things. He assured us that he would.
We left Bob’s and made our way to Tom’s next sugar daddy. We pulled up to a large apartment building in the valley. Tom called a guy named Dave, and asked him to come downstairs to the lobby. Dave emerged from the elevator in his robe and asked Tom what the fuck was going on. I started telling Dave what Tom had done and explained to him that we were trying to get some of Luke’s belongings back. Dave took Angelo, Luke, and Tom upstairs to his apartment. I went outside and waited for them. Thirty minutes later, the guys came out of the building with a few bags, a suitcase, and a few scarves. Now, we headed straight to Tom’s apartment (I was earnestly hoping that Tom’s boyfriend would be at home). We walked into the apartment and found it reeking so badly of urine that I gagged. I had to put my shirt over my mouth to be able to breathe. The place was trashed. The boyfriend was home, so Luke walked over to him and told him about the misgivings of Tom. The boyfriend was wearing a pair of shoes belonging to Luke; so, Angelo told him to take the shoes off and he complied. Luke put those into a bag as well. There were dirty clothes everywhere; the sink and counter were piled high with dirty dishes, and the garbage was overflowing from the garbage can, and there were ants everywhere. How can anybody live that way? We also saw two beautiful Siamese cats roaming around all the filth. As soon as Luke saw the cats, he looked around the floor and saw two of his Hermes dessert plates. At some point, the plates had wet cat food on them, but the wet food was dry and stuck to the plates. Luke found some paper towels and wiped the cat food off the plates and put them into his bag. Luke went through Tom’s closet and found a few shirts, a couple pairs of pants, and one Luis Vuitton suitcase. Luke was happy with the fact that he was able to get some of his stuff back. He decided not to press charges, but only because he was living abroad and it would be a pain in the ass to correspond with the courts. Angelo assured us that Tom would never do anything like that again. I didn’t ask either.