Monday, July 26, 2010

String of smash n' grabs -- Burien, WA

A serious burglary problem is plaguing Burien - with more than a dozen smash-and-grab burglaries in the past month or so.

The victims are all small business owners trying to make a go of it in the slow economy. And they have to spend more money fixing broken windows than replacing what the thieves grabbed and got away with.

Cinder blocks went through the windows of Star Nails and its next door neighbor - Happy Garden.

The thieves took only a candy machine from the nail salon - but hauled the entire cash register out of the restaurant.

"It's real easy to smash out a window with the glass on the front door, run, scoop out what you want - and go," says Sgt. John Urquhart of the King County Sheriff's Office.

"What's unusual about this particular rash is that we've had so many - 13 in a month's time - and they're all in the same geographic area," he adds.

Every business hit has a glass store front, and most are either on First Avenue South or Ambaum Boulevard, in Burien.

Thieves found the concrete they needed to break into the Burien Oil Change Express - right out front. It was a lot of work for just $25 left inside.

And at B Town burgers, owner Mario Pieris told KOMO News the thieves took $150 out of his cash register - but it cost him $400 to fix the front door they smashed.

"Whoever did it has got this thing down to a science," says Mario.

Urquhart says, "There's not a whole lot of risk. ... They don't care about alarms - by the time the alarm goes off and the police show up they're long gone."

Burien's police chief says the thieves do it either to get cash for food or drugs.

Now business owners there are doing more to protect themselves.

"We've been more careful with our closing procedures and opening procedures as well," says Mario.

Police say they are working on leads - but wouldn't release any details.

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