A look at longtime Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss's 2010 NBA title ring (Andrew D. Bernstein/ Getty).
Despite out-performing expectations with an entertaining team so far this season, the Los Angeles Lakers are currently in the midst of a down moment relative to the franchise's typically high form. However, that rich tradition remains a part of the team's public image. So, when two championship rings (and other items) were stolen from Lakers headquarters in El Segundo, it qualified as a notable occurrence for reasons other than the money involved.
On Thursday, local police announced an arrest in the case, and a former security guard at the facility is now in custody. From Larry Altman for The Breeze:
A security guard who patrolled after hours in the Los Angeles Lakers headquarters in El Segundo was charged Thursday with stealing two NBA championship rings and $20,000 in gift cards that were to be handed out at holiday events.
Eddie J. Monterroso, 23, of Inglewood allegedly spent $15,000 worth of the gift cards, buying televisions and iPads, El Segundo police Lt. Jaime Bermudez said.
Police arrested Monterroso on Tuesday as he left work at the Toyota Sports Center on Nash Street near Mariposa Avenue. Police recovered the rings and other property at his Inglewood home.
Lakers officials reported the theft on Dec. 5. Besides the gift cards for Target, Macy’s and other stores, someone made off with NBA championship rings from 2009 and 2010. Bermudez described the rings as extras that did not belong to any particular players or Lakers employees.
Monterroso, who worked for an undisclosed security company hired by the Lakers, patrolled the offices after business hours, Bermudez said.
Altman also reports that Lt. Bermudez would not release details of the investigation or case against Monterroso, so it is not yet clear exactly what is alleged to have occurred.
Although these particular rings did not belong to individuals, it's easy to see why Angelenos might have special interest in the case. A championship belongs to a franchise, but it's also commonly viewed as a city-wide accomplishment, as well. When a ring is stolen, it can mean something beyond it's monetary value.
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