"This is one of the most serious juvenile and adult crimes that we have come across," said Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca.
Neighbors told Eyewitness News they heard music and saw cars parked up and down Chota Road. But they say it was not unusual for the 9,000-square-foot mansion, which is listed for sale.
It is owned by Nick Radoi, a businessman who made the news last September when his yacht struck Balboa Pier.
Radoi was in Europe when scores of teenagers learned through tweets about a surreptitious event at his La Habra Heights property.
Detectives found key evidence online. The suspects posted shots of themselves on social media, frolicking amid waterfalls and fountains and then vandalizing one of the most valuable rooms on the property.
"There's like an underground grotto, which had like a 16-foot window looking into the pool. Somebody actually broke that window and shattered it, and we're amazed that no kid got killed," said Capt. Timothy Murakami with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
Investigators arrested 16 juveniles and three adults, many who posted photos of themselves with the loot, which included a stuffed snow leopard and Italian suits. The value of the goods and the damage to the home is estimated at $1 million.
Baca says Radoi is an acquaintance who spoke to him about the crime. But he says that his relationship had nothing to do with the actions of deputies who closed in on the teens and served warrants Wednesday morning.
"The question is how are we going to pay back the owner for the losses? I think that's a matter for the court. But I certainly believe these young people should be held accountable for what they've done," said Baca.