Local businesses are becoming the target of smash and grabs, police say

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) – In the last few weeks, more than 21 local businesses have been broken into and had things stolen from inside. St. Louis Metropolitan Police (SLMPD) are now saying that there is a trend of these crimes happening across St. Louis City.

“Right now we believe that this is kind of focused to the region,” SLMPD Major Renee Kreismann said Tuesday.

Kreismann said the department is ramping up efforts overnight to try and better protect businesses. Over the weekend, within a few blocks of each other, three different downtown stores were hit. Simply Delicious, 39 Castles and Rooster.

“Just knowing that somebody doesn’t care about you and your business and the hard work that you put into things, they’re taking money out of people that we employ and the families that they feed, and it’s just a lot of selfish and it’s unfair,” Brandi Artis, owner of Simply Delicious, said.

Simply Delicious opened on 11th and Pine in late August. They told News 4 that thieves threw a brick through their window, smashed it, and ransacked their restaurant. The same thing happened to 39 Castles next door and Rooster two blocks away.

“The working theory is that we do believe that for the most part we have a group of individuals and we’re working on trying to put all these cases together, it’s a lot of cases, so it’s taking a little while to link them all together,” Kreismann explained.

Since the beginning of October, There have been break-ins on South Grand, Downtown, Downtown West, Tower Grove, The Grove Entertainment District, and more. Police said they’re now warning businesses to take extra precautions.

“When no one else is there, keep nothing in the cash register, nothing out. They’re kind of fast entries and they grab whatever they see and then leave. So, whatever businesses can do to harden their targets, whatever businesses can do to ensure nothing’s left out that’s easy to steal, and of course, share with us any video they might have,” Kreismann added.

Business owners News 4 talked with said they want to see the city step in, catch these thieves, and prosecute them.

“The crime part, it’s just, we’re trying. We have security here and there, but what we’d like to see is the city help us out because we used to have patrol before, and we loved when police officers would come by and check everything. Right now, it’s like they leave a cop car, but there’s nobody in it,” Sebastian Montes said.

Montes is the owner of El Burro Loco, with restaurants in the Central West End and Downtown. He said they had a break-in two weeks ago, and on Friday, they had a shootout in their adjacent parking lot.

“Cars were getting broken into the parking lot down to the left side. It was really dark. Another person saw them and they all started shooting at each other. A couple of the shots went into the building,” Montes said.

El Burro, at the time, was filled with customers. Montes said customers fled for safety and many of them ended up leaving the restaurant.

“We had about 15-20 tables inside. They all got scared and ran away, which is understandable, but it’s a loss for the restaurant,” Montes explained.

Police said there were several ballistic evidence pieces from that Friday shootout, near the restaurant and in the street. Luckily, no one was injured or killed in the shooting.

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