The vintage and jewelry boutique Veda Lux, 1106 S. Perry St., was burglarized for the first time on the night of Sept. 28. Crooks made off with vintage wares, jewelry supplies and the cash register.
Summer Hightower, owner of Veda Lux, later got a call saying the register was at the gazebo in Grant Park. The register was retrieved and Hightower’s father was called in to repair and reinforce the busted back door.
Then, last week, the storage shed behind the tiny boutique was burglarized overnight. Burglars unsuccessfully tried to break into the store, too.
The same evening, burglars also targeted Lorien Herbs, which is next door.
“They forced the back gate open and unscrewed the bulbs in the security lights,” said owner Roger Imes.
Lorien has a security camera and Imes has been watching surveillance tapes looking for clues, but so far he’s come up empty-handed.
“For anybody, running a business today is a struggle even without break-ins to worry about,” said Imes, who has called police every time someone has tried to break into his store. “Thank God they haven’t made it inside yet.”
The businesses on the west side of South Perry Street have only one neighbor behind them: Grant Park. Geoff White, owner of the Perry Street Cafe, said groups of young men were hanging out in cars and drinking in the parking lot off 10th Avenue, just behind the businesses.
“I get here early in the morning and I get here late in the evening, I see them out there,” said White, adding that someone has tried breaking down the back door to the cafe a few times.
White said that about a month ago a neighbor who was walking his dog around 8 a.m. got into a confrontation with an intoxicated young man in the parking area, and White called the police. The young man took off but was later apprehended by police.
“Since then we haven’t had much of a problem,” said White. “If I see anyone out there late at night or early in the morning I call 911. That’s what police told us to do.”
Next door at Roots Salon and Spa, manager Lee Henderson said she, too, had noticed the drinking in the parking lot behind the businesses.
“We had to clean up beer bottles in our parking area every morning,” said Henderson.
Roots put up motion-sensor lights to better illuminate the area around the back door, and they also call police when they find people drinking back there.
“Business owners here have worked so hard to get the neighborhood looking this nice,” said Henderson. “We don’t want the crime back.”
Business owners agree that the crime problem is nowhere near where it was years ago.
“I think they are just a bunch of punks hanging out back there,” said White.