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$100 Reward Offered for Varmints Who Stole Stage off Store’s Roof

Times Staff Writer

In the tradition of the Old West, the owner of a Sherman Oaks antique store Tuesday posted a $100 reward for the outlaws who stole a stagecoach from the roof of his shop sometime last week.

“We want it back. It’s kind of our trademark,” said Skip Petersen, owner of the Sherman Oaks Antique Mart. “I’ll offer a clean hundred to anyone who can get it back.”

Petersen said his stagecoach--which is full size and functional, but not genuine--was poached sometime between May 18 and last Friday from atop the veranda of his store in the 14000 block of Ventura Boulevard. Both Petersen and Los Angeles police detectives are baffled at how the thieves carried out their crime.

“Who would be so audacious to do such a gutsy thing?” Petersen said. “Here we are on one of the busiest streets in town, right across from a big supermarket, and somehow they steal the doggone thing.” He called it “not all that heavy, maybe a couple hundred pounds.”

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“But how do you get it off the roof without being noticed?” he asked.

Petersen suspects that the stagecoach, which was originally built for a Wells Fargo Bank promotional event, was somehow lowered by a crane to the street and then whisked away in a truck. He said he suspects the thieves may have been college students on a dare or carrying out a prank.

Detective Mike Cobletz, assigned to the case, said there is little to go on, and a check of the scene did not reveal how the crooks pulled off the caper.

The stagecoach, painted yellow and maroon and lettered on its side with the words “U.S. Mail,” has been displayed on the antique store’s roof for the last year.

Petersen bought the coach from a dealer for $1,500, he said, adding that several customers have expressed interest in it, including one man who offered $1,000.

A store employee told Petersen that she noticed the coach was missing as early as May 18 but did not report it because she thought her boss might have transported it to one of his two other stores.

Petersen said he himself had not noticed the coach was gone until he went to the store Friday and was asked about its absence. Then he glanced outside and called police.

“It added to the attraction of our store, and we just want it back, no questions asked,” he said.

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