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Man linked to three downtown L.A. thefts

October 29, 2009|Eric Sondheimer and Diane Pucin and Helene Elliott and Staff And Wire Reports

A man with slicked-back hair who stole $26,000 in cash and jewelry from an Israeli basketball team at Staples Center also scammed his way into two downtown hotels to steal thousands of dollars from Chivas de Guadalajara soccer players and a salsa music troupe, police said Wednesday.

Detectives linked the man to the three thefts after comparing surveillance footage from Staples Center on Oct. 20 to video and descriptions from two hotels that had reported similar thefts in August and September, said Lt. Paul Vernon, head of detectives for downtown Los Angeles.

At Staples Center, where Maccabi Tel Aviv was playing an exhibition game against the Clippers, witnesses remembered seeing the man before the game and threw him out for not having proper credentials.

"Apparently he returned, dressed in a suit, holding a clipboard, and with some kind of credential sticking out of his pocket," Vernon said.

TENNIS

Williams No. 1 after Safina injury

Dinara Safina pulled out of the Sony Ericsson Championships in Doha, Qatar, after only two games because of a serious back injury, handing the year-end No. 1 ranking to Serena Williams.

Safina said a disk in her lower back was "starting to fracture" and the injury has been bothering her for three months. Williams won her first match Tuesday and beat sister Venus, 5-7, 6-4, 7-6 (4) on Wednesday.

Juan Martin del Potro, who upset Roger Federer to win the U.S. Open last month, and third-ranked Novak Djokovic have committed to play the 2010 L.A. Tennis Open next July 26-Aug. 1 at the L.A. Tennis Center at UCLA.

"We're very pleased to be getting two of the top five players in the world," tournament director Bob Kramer said.

-- Diane Pucin

HORSE RACING

Zenyatta might race in Classic

John Shirreffs, the trainer for unbeaten Zenyatta, said his preference was to race the 5-year-old mare in the Breeders' Cup Classic if she does well Saturday during a scheduled workout at Hollywood Park. On Wednesday, there were 166 horses pre-entered for next weekend's Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita, with Zenyatta in the Classic on Nov. 7 and the Ladies' Classic on Nov. 6.

"There's definitely a leaning toward the Classic if she does work well on Saturday and trains well the following week," Shirreffs said.

The 14 Breeders' Cup races will have $25.5 million in purses. There were 37 foreign-campaigned horses entered in the Breeders' Cup.

-- Eric Sondheimer

HOCKEY

Ducks sign free agent Calder

The Ducks, in a depth move, signed free-agent left wing Kyle Calder to a two-way contract and assigned him to Bakersfield of the ECHL. Calder, 30, had eight goals and 27 points last season with the Kings, who did not re-sign him.

-- Helene Elliott

The Washington Capitals say forward Quintin Laing has the H1N1 virus, making him at least the third NHL player to be diagnosed with the illness this week.

ETC.

WADA leader wants answers

The president of the World Anti-Doping Agency wants tennis authorities to shed light on Andre Agassi's admission that he used a banned drug and escaped a suspension by blaming his positive test on a spiked drink.

John Fahey said WADA can't take any action against Agassi because of the agency's eight-year statute of limitations, and that it's "unlikely" the ATP will either.

Stanford guard Jeremy Green has been suspended indefinitely by basketball Coach Johnny Dawkins for a violation of team rules. The school said the suspension would begin immediately. . . . Colorado basketball Coach Jeff Bzdelik says guard Shannon Sharpe, a freshman from Corona Centennial High, will have season-ending knee surgery. . . . Richard Petty Motorsports is finalizing elements of its 2010 program, beginning this weekend when Elliott Sadler will race a Ford at Talladega Superspeedway. . . . Italy's Christian Vieri, who announced his retirement from soccer last week, is close to signing with Brazilian club Botafogo for the 2010 season. . . . Two-time champion Martin Lel of Kenya has withdrawn from Sunday's New York City Marathon because of a leg injury. . . . Golfer Tom Lehman has withdrawn from the Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Sonoma, Calif., because of a family emergency, leaving 29 players in the season finale on the Champions Tour. . . . Reigning U.S. junior figure skating champion DeeDee Leng will miss the rest of the 2009-10 season because of a back injury.

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