He Had Many Happy Returns--One Too Many

Matthew Sabal is not your average shoplifter.

The 20-year-old Hermosa Beach resident specialized in Nordstrom department stores and, according to police and his own confession, was able to live the high life with $100,000 he made over 10 months by returning stolen items for refunds.

Sabal finally was arrested Nov. 10--the result, he said, of his mistake of returning to the Nordstrom store in West Los Angeles one too many times. This week, he pleaded guilty to grand theft and four charges of burglary in South Bay Municipal Court in Torrance in a plea bargain that prosecutors said will result in a three-year prison term. Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 28 in Torrance Superior Court.

The scam netted $100 to $1,300 a day, money that Sabal said he used to fly up and down the coast, staying at fine hotels and eating at the best restaurants.


“I made lots of money and had lots of fun,” he said. “It gave me the opportunity to go play.

“If I were Joe Shopper, it’s the place I’d want to shop,” he said of the Nordstrom stores.