By Som Lisaius,
TUCSON, AZ (KOLD) - "Before the bars were here, this door here of course was locked."
Dan Swanson is talking about a day he hoped he would never see at Swanson Furniture. The store's been a Tucson tradition for four generations, dating back to the 1950s. In March of this year, it was broken into for the very first time.
"This showcase here was broken into," Swanson says, pointing toward a long section of jewelry and collectible coins. "The whole thing was smashed in."
Turns out, Swanson Furniture is actually pretty lucky. They lost about ten thousand dollars in resale merchandise--but again, they've only been hit once.
Vintage store, Razzle Dazzle at 3402 East Grant has been broken into twice since February.
"I moved here February 1st," says Razzle Dazzle owner Cindy Ferris. "February 23rd, we were broken into.
"We had new bars installed in the windows to prevent it from happening again. And two and half months later, we get broken into again."
Ferris realizes theft is part of any business, but she's been burglarized a total of 15 times in 27 years...with this most recent case, bringing her to tears.
"After this many times, it gets to be personal," Ferris says, shaking her head. "Eventually the cost will be prohibitive and we will not be able to stay in business."
Now it's not just the small guys who are getting hit. Copper Country Antiques at the corner of Rosemont and Speedway is one of the largest antique shops in town. Over the last seven years, they lost over a hundred thousand dollars due to break-ins.
With 32 thousand square feet of antiques, furniture and collectibles, Copper Country has something for everyone. But this huge inventory comes with a lot of risk. And that risk--isn't always protected.
"You can not insure this many pieces of stuff. The cost is prohibitive."
That's why owner Phil Gaillard spent about 80 thousand dollars on security, including at least 40 cameras both inside and outside the store and a steel wall around the front of his building. There used to be windows here instead, but Gaillard had to do something to stop the bleeding.
"They actually took a garbage can--one that you'd push out into the street--and they put it down in front of the place like the wind blew it over," Gaillard says. "Then they actually crawled inside it (the garbage can) and beat the window out where nobody could see them from the bottom."
Sadly, there is no single solution to what these business owners are going through. Good news is it's brought them closer together, where they're actually looking for each other's merchandise. Many crooks steal things so they can turn around and sell them. And sometimes, they attempt to do so at another store down the street.
"Items like small collectibles, some watches, an assortment of things," says Razzle Dazzle sales consultant Bree Pappan, talking about the kinds of things being stolen. "In terms of a renewable market for them, they could be very easily unloaded (in exchange for cash) in some of the resale stores."
Property crimes are very difficult to solve without video surveillance or an eye witness. That said, if you live or work in the Midtown area and see or hear of collectible items being sold on the street, get as much information as you can about the items and the sellers. This could very well result in investigative leads. If you have any such information, please report it to Tucson Police or call 911 or 88 Crime, the Pima County Attorney's anonymous tip line.
7831 N. Business Park Drive