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THEFT OF WAR VETERAN'S SCOOTER COWARDLY ACT.

Byline: DENNIS McCARTHY

The apartment's security camera caught the thief sneaking into the parking garage at 6 a.m. -- after a car pulled out and before the security gate closed.

He looked to be a teenager or in his early 20s, wearing a checkered jacket with a hood and light pants.

Five minutes later, the same security camera caught him wheeling Harvey Rose's bright red scooter out onto the sidewalk.

Stealing the legs of an 82-year-old World War II veteran who fought at Guadalcanal.

When I talked to Harvey on Tuesday, he was down. He and his wife, Rolla, had just gotten back from the market.

"She shopped, I sat out in the car," Harvey said. "I couldn't get around to help her, and that makes me mad."

A detective from the Los Angeles Police Department's West Valley Division had been by his Winnetka apartment earlier in the day to pick up a copy of the security tape, but Harvey knew it was a longshot he'd ever see his Hover Around scooter again.

He's probably right. But there's no harm in trying to help police find the guy.

The thief doesn't know Harvey from a hill of beans, which is a shame because he could learn a thing or two from this classy, old veteran.

He could learn about courage, devotion and honesty -- the kind of attributes a guy sneaking around apartment garages at 6 a.m. looking to steal things obviously doesn't have.

The first time I met Harvey, he took me to school for being so hard on the Sepulveda VA where he receives services.

He didn't want people confusing the good job the rank-and-file staff and volunteers at the VA were doing with the poor job of the bureaucrats running the place and cutting back on veterans services.

He had just been over to the VA hoping to get a ramp built to help him get his scooter into his van so he and Rolla could get out more together.

"I was told to pull my van around back," Harvey said. "A couple of guys came out and welded on an automatic lift for me. It was more than I ever expected. I'm free to go any place I want now."

Until last week.

It's tough for Harvey to be angry like this. It runs counter to his nature. If there's a laugh to be found, Harvey Rose will usually find it.

"What'd you do in the war?" I asked him.

"I won it, that's what I did," he said, smiling. "Without me, they didn't stand a chance."

Truth is guys like Harvey did win the war. He was an Army staff sergeant who fought at Guadalcanal and the invasion of the Philippines, where he and his men saw 165 days of combat in the Pacific.

As a young man, he was busy saving the world, not sneaking around parking garages looking to steal things.

After the war, Harvey married Rolla in 1949 and began a successful career designing hotels and popular restaurants, like La Scala.

"I've always said that being married to Harvey was like being married to Jerry Lewis," Rolla said Wednesday. "He's always had a wonderful sense of humor.

"But this thing has really devastated him."

If you see a young guy riding around on a candy apple red scooter with the right-side rearview mirror missing, give LAPD Detective Jim Thornton a call at (818) 374-7756.

For Harvey Rose.

dennis.mccarthy(at)dailynews.com

(818) 713-3749

CAPTION(S):

photo

Photo:

Harvey Rose stands by the lift put on his van so he could haul his scooter.

Michael Owen Baker/Staff Photographer
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:May 31, 2007
Words:607
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