Landmark burglarized

Sometime during the evening hours of June 10, some very knowledgeable thieves skillfully plucked an estimated $25,000 worth of rare antique collectibles from the old courthouse building at 21337 Pacific Coast Highway in east Malibu.

The thieves entered the north side of the newly remodeled building known as the La Costa Court by climbing over a five-foot wall into an outdoor dining area. Once inside they broke out a window pane to a set of double doors and gained access to the building.

Among the items taken were two bronze wall sconces from the 1920s, two outdoor freestanding lanterns, dishes and a bronze Spanish style basket, an iron dragon torchiere, antique curtain rods and an oak carved lion, also from the 1920s.

Property Manager Steve Steger, who was the last to leave the building at 4:30 p.m. that day, said he did not notice anything that looked out of the ordinary when he left for the evening. Steger speculated that the burglar or burglars may have been someone who was familiar with the building and knew exactly where all the costly antiques were located.

“They were only after the good stuff,” Steger said as he pointed out that only select areas were hit.

In the weeks prior to the incident, Steger noticed an increase in the amount of suspicious people taking pictures and wandering on to the property.

Property owner Doug Himmelfarb has spent many years collecting the antiques that were stolen. He described them as priceless and unique.

“They were the finest, top of the line, all from the 1920s,” said Himmelfarb. “The market has essentially dried up, and they’re now irreplaceable.”

Himmelfarb, who has been burglarized before at the same location, expressed disappointment at what he viewed as the lack of cooperation he experienced from the local Sheriff’s Department during the investigation. According to Himmelfarb, the Sheriff’s Department has only taken a limited amount of reports and has not given the case a very high priority.

“I’m just looking for more of a response,” he said.

Himmelfarb has hired his own investigators and enlisted the help of friends to expedite the recovery of his pieces.

“I have people driving around to all the antique shops in Pasadena to inform the shop owners that the items might be coming on the market,” he said.

Himmelfarb also has friends in the antique business scouring swap meets around Southern California and is searching the on-line auction site e-bay for any sign of his antiques.

“There is a current investigation going on and we hope to have our culprits in the next couple of weeks,” he said.

Himmelfarb has owned the old courthouse and former filling station/flower shop/restaurant property for more than 11 years. The restaurant location, which formerly housed the restaurant Georgio Malibu and is now called The La Costa Court, has been remodeled and will open as an upscale French restaurant. The old courthouse building is now called the Mission Club, and will be an elegant members-only club decorated in 1920s Spanish revival decor.

The break-in and theft has postponed the grand-opening from early July to late August. Himmelfarb looks to the Malibu community for future assistance.

“We just want people in the neighborhood to keep an eye on anything out of the ordinary,” Himmelfarb said.

The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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