The Joys Of Retail: Early Morning Break-In Has Me On Edge


My northern antiques store was broken into, effectively putting the “misery” in “Missouri.”

I have invested hundreds of dollars into security devices and pay $25 per month per camera to ward off criminals, but it doesn’t matter. Why work when you can just help yourself to the possessions of those who are working?

It happened at 7:50 a.m., which worries me because sometimes I go in at 7:50 a.m. to rearrange things or do paperwork, even though we don’t open the doors until 10 a.m. Could I have walked in on the thief?

Two days prior, the alarm went off at about 11 p.m. because “someone” (my guess is the perpetrator) threw a chunk of concrete through one of my windows. He couldn’t get in, though, because the remaining shards of glass would’ve sliced him in two upon entering. But at least the alarm went off, and I was able to go down there and block the hole so that raccoons didn’t take over.

When the police came to write up their report, they said that there was a hole in the chain link fence around the back of the building that I should get fixed. I walked out back and looked at it, and it was a little doorway, 3 feet by 2 feet, with edges carefully curled back so the crook didn’t hurt himself while using it. Ask me how sympathetic I feel about this.

Chain link repair estimate: $980.

Window replacement cost: $2,054.06.

When the crook finally got in, he used the back door — a metal door with a metal pipe crossbar across the center of it. He bashed in the doorknob with a hammer, but that didn’t work because of the crossbar, so he peeled back the door itself with a crowbar and creeped in like the vermin he is.

Unfortunately for me, the top of the door was still secure, so the alarm sensor wasn’t disturbed and didn’t go off. He got to take his time stealing $8,000 of rare coins, our drawer bank, our petty cash and whatever else he felt like grabbing.

Ironically, the $8,000-plus wasn’t enough for him. He had to reach up and steal the framed “first dollar bill I ever made” from the wall behind the checkout. That last bit of greed caught him on camera, however — a nice full face shot — and it is that photo, along with the security video, that will be his doom. Because insurance may cover the rest (if they don’t cancel me) but stealing my first dollar hurt me enough emotionally so that I don’t feel bad at all about sending him up the river to Leavenworth.

Another thing that hurt me emotionally is that I suspect it was an “inside job.” Even though none of my clerks are on the video, one of them left town just as this happened, paying off a bunch of expenses she hadn’t had the money for just a week before. She called from “halfway to Florida” (city and state conspicuously absent from her conversation) to say she would not be able to work for me anymore. (She got that right.) Cost of changing the locks, just in case: $163.60.

So the joys of retail continue, with hordes of people loving that shop and no one knowing what I go through for them behind the scenes.

Except you guys, of course. Thanks for listening.