BELLINGHAM - A rash of recent break-ins has left downtown-area businesses with their tills empty before the holidays, according to Bellingham police.
Three businesses had their windows broken overnight Wednesday, Nov. 20, and another break-in happened over the weekend. The glass doors of two of the businesses were broken with barbell weights. A Bellingham detective is investigating the cases as connected.
"When you get a series of those - same night, windows smashed, cash from the register - we tend to theorize that they're connected somehow," said Sgt. Jason Monson.
On Thursday morning, break-ins were discovered at Koi Café, 1203 N. State St., and Cosmic Comics, 1905 Cornwall Ave. At both shops, the burglar smashed through glass to get in and take money from the register. A portion of glass was broken near the deadbolt of Sweet Art candy shop, 1335 Railroad Ave., but no one got into the shop.
Overnight Saturday, someone smashed a plastic barbell weight through the bottom of the glass door at Bellingham Flatbread & Bakery, at Cornwall Avenue and Alabama Street. A black metal barbell plate was used to break the glass door at Koi Café.
Café owner Debbie Solowski said that doing business downtown can have its ups and downs: In the nine years she's owned the café, she's had a window broken out and her windows scratched.
"Today I was thinking, 'The charm of owning a little business downtown is starting to wear off,'" she said.
She and other business owners in the building were planning to ask their landlord about installing cameras or alarms to increase safety.
Bellingham Flatbread owner Christie Jaquette said the cost of replacing her door was more than what was taken from her register, but it still stings so close to the holidays. That the break-ins are happening at small, local businesses that are likely hard-pressed to make up the losses is particularly frustrating, she said.
"Four hundred dollars of my grocery money just went to replace a door," she said. "That makes it incredibly tough."
She hopes that getting the word out about the break-ins will help other business owners keep an eye out.
Monson advised business owners to keep tills empty at night, with the drawer open so potential thieves will see there's no cash. Aside from cameras and alarms, keeping stores well-lit also can deter criminals.
MAP OF BREAK-INS AT BELLINGHAM BUSINESSES
View Reported Barbell Break-ins in Bellingham in a larger map
Reach ZOE FRALEY at email@example.com or call 756-2803.