Local News

Monday, Jun 25 2012 06:38 PM

Repeat burglaries a strain on businesses

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    By Shelby Mack / The Californian

    Herman Almanza, the owner of Herm's Barbershop, cuts the hair of Amando Herrera in front of a bracket where a television used to hang in his shop. The barbershop was burglarized last week for the third time since opening just a year ago.

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BY JASON KOTOWSKI Californian staff writer jkotowski@bakersfield.com

It worked once, so why not try again?

That's the apparent mindset of burglars who target the same businesses again and again. Maybe they're familiar with the place and feel comfortable getting inside, or maybe they're gambling on the fact that the shop owner hasn't upgraded security.

"It's a common phenomenon," Kern County sheriff's spokesman Ray Pruitt said.

Whatever the reason, it causes a heavy strain on business owners and employees.

Herman Almanza's barbershop on Columbus Street near Mt. Vernon Avenue has been broken into three times since September, most recently on June 20. Almanza estimates he's lost about $10,000. Nobody's been caught, so it's not certain that the incidents were related.

The thieves have stolen flat-screen TVs, a video game system, hair clippers, cash and just about anything that wasn't nailed down.

"The only thing that was valuable that they left behind were the barber chairs," Almanza said.

Almanza had some backup equipment and some money saved, but he's fast gone through it trying to keep the shop running. Some of his barbers aren't working because there's not enough equipment to go around.

"We have one pair of scissors we pass around for scissor cuts," Almanza said.

Bakersfield police Sgt. Mary DeGeare said the glass was knocked out on the shop's front door in a Sept. 27 burglary. An unidentified witness saw two suspects leave in an older black Honda with no plates.

The barbershop was hit again Dec. 11. This time the rear door was forced open and a couple of flat-screen TVs were stolen.

In the latest burglary, Almanza reported locking up about 6:30 p.m. June 19 and returning about 8:30 a.m. June 20 to find the dead bolt on the ground and the place ransacked, DeGeare said.

Another local business has been hit three times just in the past month, DeGeare said. Police made two arrests early Monday following the latest burglary at R Spot Tobacco on Chester Avenue.

Officers patrolling the area saw the shop's front door smashed open and four people leaving, DeGeare said. The officers chased the suspects and managed to nab two of them, a 15-year-old and 16-year-old in possession of cigarettes, T-shirts and other items from the shop.

DeGeare said the two were booked on suspicion of burglary, conspiracy and resisting arrest. The other suspects are at large.

It wasn't known Monday whether the juveniles were the same suspects who had burglarized the shop twice earlier this month, but video surveillance footage will be studied to see if there's a match, DeGeare said.

Cigarettes were stolen in burglaries on June 4 and June 12.

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