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Smash and grabs have business owners feeling uneasy

READ MORE: Smash and grabs have business owners feeling uneasy
A number of break-ins have area store owners feeling uneasy. Police are calling them ‘smash and grabs’ because it appears whoever broke in used objects like bricks or concrete to bust through the glass doors. Two of these incidents happened late Monday night within city limits while there were a few other cases of breaking and entering overnight in New Hanover County. Al Kelly was unusually busy Tuesday morning running around town, fixing broken glass doors. “We've had a rash of break-ins overnight, and I'm just cleaning up the mess." These weren't your average break-ins. The Shell gas station on Third Street had its front door broken into with a brick. Across town on Masonboro Loop Road, someone was busy smashing a glass door with two pieces of concrete. Crystal Williamson, a Wilmington crime prevention officer, said, "The bad guys are finding things lying around the business like bricks, rocks, and they are even using cement planters." When Al Cervantes, owner of Four Seasons Dry Cleaners, came in to open his shop early this morning, he found a ten pound rock on the floor. Apparently, whoever tried to break in used it to smash in the door. Once they got inside, they left with the cash register. Personal belongings can be replaced, but now business owners are questioning their safety. Cervantes said, "From now on, I'm going to have to get permission to have a weapon, just to protect ourselves and our kids here." Employee Sade Foster said, "No, I don't feel safe, that's like saying someone could just come in here and take money from me." Law enforcement officers say business owners need to make it impossible for suspects to get inside. The cases are being looked into, and officers said given the time and nature of the crimes, they may be related.

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"Law enforcement officers say business owners need to make it impossible for suspects to get inside." What are they supposed to do? Bar the windows or build walls so no glass is exposed? Or better yet, close their business completely?

Some helpful suggestions

Here are some suggestions for business owners. First, owners can put a sign on their door that says no cash is left in the store after hours. Secondly, leave lights on inside the makes it easier for others to see who might be in the store. And believe it or not, if the entire window is broken out it's hard for officers driving by to see the broken glass on the floor. If you have lights outside your store, they should be left on as well. Thirdly, if you have a safe, leave it open so someone outside can look in and see that there is nothing in it. Fourth, leave your cash register open. If the register can be seen from outside and you can see that it's open, the burglar will go on to the next store. If you can't see the register, more than likely, after the person breaks in, he'll see the register is open and leave. Lastly, make sure there isn't anything laying around outside your store that someone could use to break in. Most break-ins at stores are done with objects that the person finds laying outside the store. If you have no lose bricks or large stones, the suspect may go on to the next store.