Alleged window-smashing broker may be suspect in 70 more cases
The unlikely suspect in a string of window breakings in Beverly Hills -- a 58-year-old Encino investment adviser -- may be connected to 70 additional cases in the area, authorities said.
Michael Steven Poret, a broker at UBS Financial Services, was arrested in Encino last week.
Police say that Poret vandalized numerous businesses along Ventura Boulevard and several private homes in Beverly Hills.
A witness account and private surveillance footage have depicted the vandal as a graying man in white gloves firing marbles at plate glass windows with a slingshot from the driver's seat of his car, then driving away in no apparent hurry.
Authorities believe that Poret could be connected to more than 20 vandalism incidents in Beverly Hills and more than 50 in Encino, as well as several other vandalism reports authorities have received in Van Nuys and Topanga Canyon.
The vandal appears to target businesses indiscriminately, hitting coffee shops, an autism treatment center and a salon. Luie Velasquez, a detective with the West Valley division of the Los Angeles Police Department, said the police's top theory is that the suspect sought excitement.
"Your guess is as good as mine," Velasquez said. "For whatever reason, these individuals get some sort of thrill from smashing windows."
Poret was first arrested July 3 after a Beverly Hills patrol officer spotted a slingshot in his vehicle during a traffic stop for a vehicle code violation. A search of his vehicle revealed brass knuckles, knives and slingshot projectiles.
Poret was arrested again Thursday in an early morning raid on his Encino home, where police discovered firearms, bb guns, slingshots and marbles similar to those used in the window-breakings.
According a report filed with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Poret had been an investment adviser with UBS Financial Services since 2008. A company spokeswoman confirmed Monday that Poret was placed on administrative leave following his Thursday arrest.
Reports of window-breakings along Ventura Boulevard near Poret's Encino Hills home had been escalating for months, Velasquez said. Fearful store owners say they're now pointing their security cameras at the street rather than at their stores.
Windows at Epic Salon on Ventura Boulevard were smashed twice within a month. Jeff Swaner, the salon's owner, began to fear for the viability of his 19-year-old business. Each window costs $2,500 to replace, and his insurance company was getting impatient.
"We moved to Ventura Boulevard to get more exposure, but we didn't expect this," Swaner said. "It just shows how little you know about people."
Stefan de Nocker owns an office building that was targeted three times. His windows cost $7,000 to fix. When Poret was arrested, De Nocker was "dumbfounded."
"I mean, I know that an investment bankers are a little nuts," De Nocker said. "But you know, maybe the market is that bad. I don't get that. He must be a very frustrated guy."
-- Frank Shyong
Photo: A vandalized window facing Ventura Boulevard at Epic Salon in Encino. Credit: Epic Salon