Reseda Man, 18, Sought in Series of School Thefts


After a six-month investigation by the LAPD, an arrest warrant was issued Wednesday in Van Nuys Superior Court for an 18-year-old Reseda resident who police say was the ringleader in a series of burglaries at Harvard-Westlake High School in Studio City that led to a shooting at the prestigious private school.

Gabriel Labbad, a Lebanese citizen, is charged with six counts of grand theft and two of solicitation to commit a crime.

Labbad’s attorney and family told officers that they have not seen the former Pierce College student for more than a month, police said.


North Hollywood Division Det. Vince Bancroft said it took investigators six months to get an arrest warrant because of the number of interviews they had to conduct.

“We located and interviewed 25 people who knew Labbad, but the problem was that they were going to universities and colleges scattered throughout the nation and it took several months to contact all of them,” Bancroft said.

Although the investigation is incomplete, authorities believe Labbad recruited several of his friends from Reseda’s Cleveland High School to join him in the burglaries.

“Labbad knew a lot of people at Cleveland because he was a varsity football player and head of the yearbook staff,” Bancroft said. “We think he used his popularity and promises of making a quick buck to influence some kids who wouldn’t normally get themselves into trouble with the law.”

According to police reports, more than $100,000 worth of top-line computers and laser printers were stolen from Harvard-Westlake’s computer lab in six burglaries during 1996.

On Oct. 19, a seventh attempted break-in at the school ended when a school administrator shot a youth who had allegedly broken into the school. The youth, who was arrested on suspicion of attempted burglary, has been recovering from his wound.


Bancroft, who previously interviewed Labbad in connection with the Harvard-Westlake burglaries, said he showed no sympathy for the wounded youth. Labbad initially denied knowing him, though they were teammates on the Cleveland High football team, Bancroft said.

“What struck me the most about Labbad was his hardened attitude,” Bancroft said. “It appeared to me that his greed was more important than the welfare of his friends.”

A Nov. 26 search of Labbad’s residence in the 19500 block of Lanark Street turned up thousands of dollars worth of computers and office equipment as well as hundreds of blank credit cards and electronic encoding equipment, police said.

Police said Labbad sold a few of the stolen Harvard-Westlake computers to a network of black market buyers in Los Angeles and Riverside counties. Labbad apparently stripped memory chips, hard drives and Pentium processors from some computers, swapping them into others to create new, untraceable systems, which he then apparently sold, police said.