Wave of comm'l burglaries plague businesses
Last updated 2/7/2008 at Noon
Twenty-eight businesses have been the victim of commercial burglaries in Fallbrook since January 1, creating a rough start to crime for 2008. Law enforcement officials say the businesses targeted appear to be primarily ‘Mom and Pop’ operations.
“We have definitely had a rash of commercial burglaries,” said Sgt. Theresa Adams-Hydar of the Fallbrook Sheriff’s Substation. “Businesses have been hit during the evening hours throughout the downtown corridor.”
Adams-Hydar said it appears that those committing the crimes are not very sophisticated, as significant damage has been done to gain entry. This leads to speculation that the burglars are youngsters versus seasoned criminals.
Victims say the burglars have gained access in a variety of ways – by removing window air conditioners, prying open windows or doors or breaking glass. In some cases, the perpetrators have disabled the electrical to a building prior to breaking in to reduce visibility to passersby.
Alarms have been activated in some instances, but when called, business owners have assumed a random electrical outage led to the system being tripped and subsequently called off a law enforcement check.
“We are advising business owners not to disregard their alarms,” Adams-Hydar said. “You will end up paying more for the loss of property than if you get a charge for a false alarm call in a case like this.”
Jackie Colvin of Mission Barber Shop said access was gained to several businesses in her neighborhood by removing window-style air conditioners.
“I think we lost the most in our area – about $300,” Colvin said. “I think it was younger people. Some people in the area saw a group of kids hanging out and after the burglaries, they were gone.”
Colvin said several new security precautions have been taken at the barber shop that never seemed necessary before.
“I’ve been on this corner 12 and one-half years and never had a problem before,” Colvin said. “Just here recently, I don’t know what’s going on. They knew what they were doing; they went in back and shut everyone’s electric off. They were strictly after ‘green’ money – nothing else.”
Streets experiencing multiple burglary incidences include South Mission Road and Main Avenue. A smattering of burglaries has also taken place on Ammunition, Aviation, Beech, Alvarado and Brandon.
The rash of crimes has prompted law enforcement to increase foot patrol during the evening hours in and around commercial areas.
Indicators point to the fact that burglars may have prior knowledge of the inside of some of the businesses they hit. Adams-Hydar said store owners should be especially aware of individuals entering a business that may not be the ‘usual’ type of customer expected or those who appear to be wandering aimlessly around.
“Many times, a burglar will visit a store ahead of time to see where the cash register is located and to look at what is located by the windows.” Adams-Hydar advises business owners to jot down descriptions of the individual(s), or the license plate of a vehicle they are traveling in, just in case a crime results shortly afterward.
Susie Birchall, owner of Fallbrook Flooring, reported that burglars did not enter her store as they did many neighboring businesses but says her window screens were slashed, perhaps out of frustration.
“I think [the burglars] were discouraged by the fact that we have an alarm system,” Birchall said. “It is posted on the outside of the building that we have Fallbrook Alarm.”
Birchall said one tip she would give other business owners is to keep the exterior of their building clear of debris or other items that people can hide behind.
“It is important to remove boxes, old furniture and those types of things from around your building,” she said. “I also recommend good lighting and a locked electrical box.”
The public could also lend their help, Adams-Hydar said.
“Most of the businesses in Fallbrook close up around 5 p.m. or shortly thereafter,” she said. “If, when passing by a business, you see something strange – like people hanging out or in a nearby alley – call 9-1-1 and report it as suspicious activity. Be a good witness.”
Adams-Hydar emphasized that in most cases, “no one has any business just hanging around after 10 p.m.”
While the numbers are harsh for Fallbrook at the start of a new year, Adams-Hydar is confident her team will gain control of the situation.
“Our detectives and patrol deputies are working these cases very proactively,” said Adams-Hydar.
If you have any information on the recent burglaries, call the Sheriff’s Substation at (760) 451-3100 or, to be eligible for a reward for your information, call Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-TIPS.
Businesses that would like free advice on how to better guard against theft are encouraged to call Sheriff’s Crime Prevention Specialist John McLelland at (760) 451-3100.
In the article entitled “Wave of comm’l burglaries plague businesses,” it was mistakenly suggested in Tips for Businesses to use double-keyed deadbolts on doors. In fact, double-keyed deadbolts do not meet Fire Code ordinance for exterior doors. Officials advise business owners to use single-cylinder deadbolts only. The Village News apologizes for the error.