Oldtown business owners push for private security patrols.
Thursday, June 9, 2005
Sometime between 8:30pm and 9:30pm on June 5, a burglar broke into Rollick’s Specialty Coffee House and Internet Café in Oldtown Salinas. The perpetrator first tried to get in the back way. After damaging the rear door, the burglar went around to the front glass door and threw a rock through the window before heading to the cash register. Unsuccessful with the register, the burglar made off with a sugar cookie.
The coffee shop will have to repair the doors and the register, and will likely fork over higher insurance premiums, but Rollick’s was pretty fortunate—if there is such a thing in any burglary.
Just down the street in Oldtown at the Cherry Bean Gourmet Coffeehouse, it’s been a bit rougher.
A week prior, the Cherry Bean experienced virtually the same kind of break-in: a bashed-in window and a quick run by burglars to the cash register. The register was ripped to the ground and drained of its cash, about $200.
The stolen cash and the repairs isn’t the most painful part, according to Cherry Bean co-owner Gina Hernandez. The fact that they’d been hit before, and recently, is. “This was the third time in six months,” she says.
The first was an armed robbery on a Sunday morning a few months back. The robber pulled a gun on co-owner Peter Empson, demanded money, and fled. The second happened about three weeks ago, a late-night burglary.
“They took tip money out of the tip jar,” Hernandez says. “Maybe about $20.”
Whether it’s $20 from the Cherry Bean or a cookie at Rollick’s, business owners say something’s got to be done.
“It’s ridiculous,” says Oldtown’s Aquablue Skin and Body Spa owner Frank Savino, talking about the break-ins. “This is a safe place. The city owes it to the businesses in Oldtown to keep patrols going constantly.”
Todd Williams, one of Hernandez’ business partners at the Cherry Bean, suggests taking things a bit further, hoping business owners will chip in for private security in the area. “We’re talking to the Oldtown Association about getting security patrols in Oldtown to kind of help deter anybody who might want to break in or just do vandalism,” he said following last weekend’s robbery.
Hernandez likes that idea. “Private security would be great down here [in Oldtown], particularly at night.”
But private security isn’t exactly at the top of the Oldtown Salinas Association’s to-do list, according to its director, Jennifer Filice. “I don’t understand why this is news,” Filice says of the burglaries. “It happens everywhere.”
But, she adds, security is one of a myriad of topics regularly discussed among the association. “We look at the big picture to see what things we need to do to make it fun, clean and safe.”
For now, business owners take the initiative themselves to ensure that things remain peaceful and relatively crime-free in the vibrant restaurant and shopping district.
“We all look out for each other down here,” Rollick’s Dave Mickelson says. “We’re a family, even the customers.”
Savino walks his spa’s clients to their cars if they feel even the slightest bit uncomfortable. Mickelson says Rollick’s regularly does that for staff and would do it for its clientele as well.
And while business owners continue to push for some sort of nighttime private security in Oldtown, Hernandez says she wouldn’t want to do business anyplace else. “We are willing to do whatever it is we can do to continue to make our customers feel safe and welcome down here. This is a great, very safe place to be. I absolutely love it here in Oldtown.”
Number of brands of wine in Monterey County.
Source: The Monterey County Vintners & Growers