Crackdown on Crime - Burglars target local shopping center

By Lee Peck - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - A handful of small businesses have set up shop here off Nelson Road, but in the past three weeks several have had unexpected visits after hours.

"We have had four burglary complaints within the same shopping center since March 7th of this year," said Lake Charles Police Sgt. Mark Kraus.

Three businesses Jilly's, Primary Rehab Services & Pigtails and Crewcuts reported burglaries on March 9th, which they believed happened on Saturday March 7th. In each case the thieves made away with chump change if anything. Then this past Tuesday night a fourth business was hit -- police suspect the same person is responsible.

"You feel violated," said Hunter Perrin.

Perrin's alarm system at his State Farm Insurance office went off around 8:41 p.m. likely scaring away the burglars. Perrin says like the other three burglaries, the thief made entry through the back door using a crow bar.

"They ruined the lock, we had it already repaired, but this was all broken out here, and that's how they gained access and the police said it was a tire tool and they put a tire tool in the back door," explained Perrin.

In addition to their losses the money to repair the damages is in the neighborhood of about $200. It's money that most small businesses don't have during these tough economic times. It's also what some believe may be leading the culprits to desperate measures.

"People are doing some crazy things and it's worrisome that the crime rate might take a big upturn just because people are feeling the pressure," said Kerry Woods with Primary Rehab Services.

But with Louisiana's right to protect law, police say the risk is not worth the reward.

"If deadly force is used and the burglar is killed in this process, it's just bad on the burglar for choosing that person on that day and the message is that it's not worth losing your life over some trinkets they are stealing from these businesses," said Sgt. Kraus.

Businesses that have since armed themselves with alarms.

A reward is being offered in this case for information. If anyone has seen anything suspicious call Lake Charles Police at 491-1311 or Crimestoppers at 439-2222.