Since then, investigators have found hundreds of Southern California
businesses, mostly restaurants, that may have been victims of the
suspects, Itzhak Apo, Avi Shushan and Yaron Patay, as well as others.
All but one of the 28 Burbank businesses in question are restaurants.
"They hit almost every community in Southern California," said Fire
Capt. Bob Reinhardt, who is investigating the alleged frauds in Burbank.
"They enter unannounced and almost force (the businesses) to allow them
to service their extinguishers."
Employees of Apollo Fire Protection in Encino and other businesses
allegedly went into restaurants and other businesses under the guise of
checking fire extinguishers and fire suppression systems above restaurant
cooking areas. In some cases, the extinguishers and systems were
disabled. In others, the workers claimed to have serviced the items when
they had not, officials said.
Officials are concerned that the alleged frauds compromised the safety
of the affected businesses, many of which were owned by minorities.
Reinhardt said officials have contacted the reported Burbank victims
and are investigating to see if there are others.
State laws require the equipment to be checked on a regular basis by
licensed companies. The companies under suspicion were not licensed but
used other businesses' license numbers, officials said. The phony
companies allegedly showed up to inspect the businesses more often than
is required and charged more money than is typically paid for the
A legitimate company known as Apollo Fire Protection operates out of
Canoga Park, while the business under suspicion claims to be based in
Encino, according to Hermosa Beach police records. Other names used by
the suspects include A & P Fire Extinguisher Service, Haynes Fire
Protection and Alpine Fire Protection Service.
Anyone with questions about their inspection company can call the
state fire marshal's office at (916) 445-8200.