MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Only two weeks ago Luis Tamay opened his El Chuchi Market along East Lake. A gamble in good times, the COVID-19 pandemic is only making things harder.

That was until late Sunday night when thieves smashed both his store’s glass door and Luis’ dreams.

“This one guy walk up from the street and throw a rock. He broke glass and they came in and picked up the register and left,” Luis Tamay said.

The two thieves came back a second and third time, just minutes apart. Surveillance video inside the store shows the pair raiding the cash drawer and display case. One man is even captured stealing frozen meat from the store’s freezer.

“We lose money, we pay to fix the door and everything. It’s hard but we have to keep going,” Tamay said.

Over the past week in the 1st Precinct Minneapolis Police responded to reports of at least nine business burglaries. All were of the similar smash and grab burglaries.

Here, in the midst of pandemic and poor sales, Birchwood Cafe now has to cough up scarce money to replace a smashed glass entry door.

“We don’t know how much it will cost to fix the door and yes, we don’t really need that. Because it’s just another thing to worry about,” Birchwood manager Marshall Paulsen said.

Police say thieves appear to be targeting businesses which are now vulnerable due to shorter operating hours and less human activity.

“Now there’s long periods of time where nobody is present and people are seizing the opportunity to get in and take what they can,” police spokesman John Elder said.

Already hard hit by pandemic losses, it’s another expense business owners like Luis can do without.

“We are trying to work hard, sell something for rent and after this happened we lose money,” Tamay said.

Police are urging businesses to remove visible valuables like liquor bottles, empty cash drawers and leave them open. It’s also advised to make daily checks on the property and leave surveillance and alarms systems operating.

Bill Hudson

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