Clearman's North Woods Inn in La Mirada is known for its sandwiches, its architecture and a festive atmosphere inside, but employees are concerned that its parking lot is developing a bad reputation.
"We're right off the freeway. People come into the restaurant to eat for an hour or two. Sometimes, people watch them and it's easy to get into their cars and steal things," said inn employee Ron Heathcock.
An off-duty sheriff's deputy was no exception.
The burglary took place at about 9 p.m. Wednesday in the inn's parking lot on the 14300 block of Firestone Boulevard near Valley View Avenue. After about a two-hour meal, the deputy came out to his car and found it had been broken into, and a black duffel bag was missing.
The stolen bag reportedly contained two possibly loaded handguns, a badge and an identification card, said sheriff's officials. The vehicle was locked, but the burglar used some sort of device to pry it open.
Heathcock said the inn had security cameras in the parking lot in the past, but they are no longer in commission.
Authorities did not have a suspect description as of midday Thursday, but deputies believe the suspect was likely surprised by what he or she found inside the car.
"We think this was a random burglary, and the suspect just happened to come across some police equipment, which includes the badge, the ID and the firearm," said Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Lt. Frank Rivera.
If you have any information regarding this incident, you're urged to contact the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Norwalk Station at (562) 863-8711.
If you have concerns that a person may be trying to impersonate a deputy, you are advised to ask for his or her photo identification or call a local sheriff's station.
City News Service contributed to this report.