Sea N’ Soul Surf Malibu vandalized and burglarized

Sea N Soul Surf Malibu vandalized and burglarized

By Ben Marcus

Special to The Malibu Times

At 4:32 a.m. early in the morning of Saturday, Nov. 5, a thief wearing a hood over a wig did significant financial and emotional damage when he shattered a storefront window at Sea N Soul Surf—a shop at 29575 Pacific Coast Highway that opened June of 2022 in west Malibu.

Security cameras captured a sharp-faced man who looked a bit like T.E. Lawrence.

John Kozlowski is an emigre from New York who is partners in the shop with longtime Malibu surfer/attorney Dave Olan. 

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Asked about the break-in, Kozlowski said, “It was only one person, a white male probably mid 50’s in age. He threw a large rock through the glass door in the Boardroom area of our shop…the new expanded space because we expanded at the beginning of October and now have two suites.”

The vandalism and burglary was discovered by Dale Stark, the property manager, who arrived at the building early Saturday morning to go to the gym. Kozlowski came down from the hills concerned and then distraught at the amount of damage and the losses, several surfboards— including foam boards, fiberglass boards, and Kozlowski’s own personal board that was located in the bathroom. Plus, many clothing items and jewelry, such as cashmere sweaters, fleece hoodies, women’s bikinis, hats, and swim fins. 

All of it on display and vulnerable in a stylishly-appointed shop that Kozlowski, Olan, and Kozlowski’s wife Erica invested a great deal of financial and sweat equity into opening, “Erica and I have watched the masked robber over and over again today on the videos. It makes my stomach turn every time. He even took my own surfboard from the bathroom room. That makes it really personal and makes me believe this person has been in the shop and knew what he was looking to get. Plus, the person took their time. They looted and left the store four times over the course of 40 minutes. Obviously not worried that they would be caught or if he did, no consequences would come from it.”

Kozlowski believes the thief was someone who had visited the shop and knew the layout and knew what they were looking for, “I find it very strange that they would take my own personal board from the bathroom,” Kozlowski said. 

Store security captured a clear image of the thief and all his movements. It is hoped that someone will recognize him, “In my opinion, he’s a very sinister-looking character,” Kozlowski said and, after seeing other security footage, believes two thieves were involved. Perhaps one was watching out for roaming security while the other looted the store.

Two days after the theft, a gloomy, rainy Monday wasn’t improving Kozlowski’s mood at all, “It’s really a gut-wrenching feeling of being violated. This, after all, is our livelihood. We have poured our hearts and soul into this place and try to treat everyone with such welcoming arms and do all within our abilities to build a business that will support our family. We now find ourselves waking up in the middle of the night to look at the live cameras in the store because we are worried this person will return to do it again.”  

Kozlowski’s incomplete list included six surfboards, women’s bikinis, two cashmere sweaters from Beryll, vintage French Workwear pants, upcycle vintage denim jeans from Transnomatica, a Rhode Dress, three pairs of Katin board shorts, an RRL sweater DaFin swim fins and other merchandise “We still do not know the cost of replacing the glass door,” Kozlowski said on that gloomy Monday. “They are coming later today to work on it. But the value of the merchandise is in the five figures.”

There is no such thing as petty theft, and the amount of damage plus the stolen merchandise is well over $950 and qualifies this as Grand Theft under California Penal Code Section 487 C—which can be a misdemeanor or felony punishable by up to three years in prison.

Hopefully, someone in the Malibu surf or thief community will recognize this person and inform the police—who will not cut off his hands but might chafe them a bit when they slam on the wrist bracelets and haul him off to jail.

As for the Kozlowski’s, the vandalism not only shattered the glass window but their sense of security, “We will be more cautious for sure, working on alarm system upgrades, more cameras, etc… It’s unfortunate that this is the world we live in today. That said, I have to say the Malibu Community is rallying around us and being very supportive. For that, we are extremely grateful.”

If anyone has any information about the break-in or the perpetrators, or the merchandise, please contact Sea N’ Soul Surf at (424) 235-2430. 

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