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Two Men Held : Joe Louis’ Fight Belts Recovered

Times Staff Writer

Thanks to an anonymous informant, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies have arrested two men on burglary charges and recovered two boxing belts decorated in 14-carat gold and valued at $500,000 mostly because they belonged to late heavyweight champion, Joe Louis.

Deputies arrested a 25-year-old drifter, Mark Estes, Friday after staking out a 7-Eleven convenience store that he was known to frequent in Inglewood, Deputy Roxanna Schuchman said Saturday.

A short time later, 29-year-old William Kreitz, an unemployed Rancho Palos Verdes resident, was arrested as he emerged from a nearby traffic court. Kreitz had been taken into custody by Inglewood police the night before, when officers questioned him at a disturbance on Plymouth Street and learned that he had failed to answer a previous driving charge.

Both men are being held in lieu of $12,500 bail.

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The belts, representing American and British Empire championships won by Louis in the late 1930s, had been taken in a June 5 office break-in at Schaefer & Associates, a management consulting firm in Rolling Hills Estates.

Louis’ widow had donated the items so they could be included in a Las Vegas boxing hall of fame proposed by Ronald T. Schaefer of the firm.

Schaefer could not be reached for comment Saturday.

But deputies said that last Thursday, the informant anonymously contacted Schaefer and claimed to have information about the stolen belts. When the informant later appeared at Schaefer’s office and was confronted by undercover deputies, he handed over the items, saying that Estes and Kreitz had asked him to hold them.

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Because the investigation is continuing, deputies said, the informant’s name is being withheld.

Near the Inglewood convenience store, deputies also recovered a stolen vehicle and a stolen gun believed to have been used by the suspects.

But still missing is a congressional medal posthumously awarded to Louis in 1981.


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