Businesses Closed By COVID-19 Restrictions Now Targeted By Burglars

A Denver Police Department officer wears latex gloves and a face mask during the novel coronavirus outbreak.

A Denver Police Department officer wears latex gloves and a face mask during the novel coronavirus outbreak. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

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April 23, 2020

Cisco Martinez runs a barber shop that’s about a lot more than cutting hair.

At Cisco’s Barbershop on South Federal Boulevard in Denver, Martinez says he has worked to serve the community with his business.

“I’m a family-oriented traditional service barbershop. We do lots of things for the community: giving young kids jobs to make a couple bucks sweeping up … free cuts, and turkey dinners we gave out for Christmas,” he said.

Then came coronavirus. Barbers and hair stylists had to shut down. And after Cisco’s Barbershop temporarily closed its doors, the business suffered another blow: a burglary was reported to police.

Martinez posted surveillance video of the intruders on Facebook, with a warning to other closed businesses.

Cisco’s Barbershop is not alone. Denver police crime data through April 20 showed 139 reported burglary incidents at businesses this month so far, surpassing the total of 98 incidents for the entire month of April one year ago. 145 incidents were reported last month. The data for this month shows incidents reported at several restaurants and stores that are closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

On Tuesday, the Denver Police Department released images of a suspect they are trying to catch who broke into Devon’s Pub on East Hampden Avenue and stole the ATM.

Police say they have solved some of the break-ins. A police spokesperson said officers have arrested 17 burglary suspects connected to various incidents. Police suspected some suspects may have been responsible for several incidents.

Devin Boyd is among those who have been arrested.

He is charged with burglarizing Bass Pro Shops on Northfield on April 11. Police reportedly caught Boyd after the store’s burglar alarms tripped, hiding on the roof camouflaged in a ghillie suit taken from the store.

Officers said they found Boyd carrying a bag with 13 firearms from the store’s gun room.

In addition to the break-ins at closed businesses, police say the businesses burglarized the most this month include marijuana dispensaries and apartment buildings (which includes break-ins in apartment mail rooms, storage areas and leasing offices.)

Police say they hope the arrests they’re making may slow down the break-ins.

Officers are advising business owners to secure their buildings and install security cameras. Police say business owners can contact a DPD community resource officer in their district to provide an assessment of their building and make suggestions on improving security.

Martinez says he took security measures and removed almost everything of value from his shop when he shut it down. That meant the two burglars got away with nothing other than a couple of bottles of alcohol. The bottles were birthday gifts Martinez received from clients; evidence of the kind of connections he hopes to be able to have with customers again when his shop reopens (with precautions) next week.

This story is part of a collaboration with Rocky Mountain PBS through FRONTLINE’s Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Brittany Freeman, Rocky Mountain PBS

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