Stores in Heights strip mall targeted repeatedly by thieves; owners have had enough

HOUSTON – The owners of several businesses at a strip mall in the Heights say thieves keep breaking into their stores and they’ve had enough.

The owner of Ashley Cakes said she’s been at the location for about a year and she was hit for the first time Wednesday night.

“I’m okay, I’ve been a little nervous and jumpy today but I’m more just disappointed that it happened to small business owners because this is our whole livelihood," said Ashley Griffith, owner of the bakery.

Surveillance video captured two suspects break the glass at the front door, enter the store and smash two cash registers.

There was some change inside the register, but no cash. Griffith says the thieves didn’t take any of the coins but did take her laptop and ransacked her office.

“There’s been a lot of break-ins in this whole shopping center, this is a first one for me, but not for the others," said Griffth who is now debating making her bakery a cashless establishment.

She said Tea Victory Board Game Cafe and King’s Bierhaus were also targeted.

The owners of Tea Victory Board Game Cafe said they’ve been hit twice before and nothing was really taken, but in the latest break-in, the thieves came prepared and used saws and equipment to break into their safe.

“We got broken into in October, and then again in December and now when we come to work this morning all the other businesses in this shopping center were robbed last night, three other businesses, and we’re thinking it’s the same guys again," said Matt Wurth, owner of ICyccle Bike Shop. "After I found out all my neighbors had been broken into, the Bierhaus has been broken into seven times, we’ve been broken into two times, it appears to be the same people, somehow the words out are on the street that it’s an easy target.”

Last year Wurth’s surveillance video captured the thieves stealing $25,000 worth in bikes. Since that incident, he’s installed iron gates, more security cameras, a loud alarm system. He also put cables on all the bikes.

“When customers come in the store, they see everything locked up and it almost looks like a jail and then they looking around thinking, ‘Man is this safe neighborhood?’ So yeah it’s frustrating," said Wurth.

He believes the suspected thieves skipped them because it’s difficult to get into the store. He also believes the crimes have been committed by the same people and worries they may have been out on bond during that time.

“Most people, when you vote in elections, you know who you’re going to vote for for president, congressman or whatever. But I didn’t do any research on judges, but now I will."

Griffith said they’ve talked to the landlord and hoping to get more security in the parking lot overnight.

There is private security that patrols during business hours because some of the owners split the cost of that because customer’s cars were being broken into during the day.