Police are still trying to figure out who broke into several Johnson City businesses since the beginning of the month.
We first told about a burglary at Mad Greek restaurant, Saturday. According to the owners, the suspect broke in, took cash and computer equipment. The Johnson City location had to shut down for at least a day until things could be repaired.
News Channel 11 found out Mad Greek wasn’t the only business targeted.
Just like any other weekend, Amel Rugovac walked into his restaurant, Bella Vita, on North Roan Street. Everything appeared normal, at first, but he said, “if you looked at the cash register it was busted up, change everywhere, money everywhere.”
He said someone broke in and stole about $300.
A very similar story on the other side of town, at Mad Greek’s newest location. Kitchen manager Vann Fuller said, “after we closed, some people broke in.”
In both cases, the victim’s said the suspect broke into the business the same way.
“He tried both the doors in the front and in the back.,” Rugovac said. “Then I guess those didn’t budge, so he tried the middle door and it finally budged.”
For Rugovac, he believes the suspect had a plan. He told News Channel 11, “all the cops were probably too focused on Blue Plum. They hit at the right moment and the right time. They’ve been planning on this for a long time.”
News Channel 11’s Lauren Haviland looked through several reports at the Johnson City Police Department. While police have not connected any of these cases, some are eerily similar. In at least two incidents the suspect cut into the safe.
Books-A-Million was also burglarized this month. According to the police report, the suspect went straight to the office where the safe was kept. It goes on to say, the suspect then used an electric grinder to cut a small square into the side. The suspect grabbed about $2,000, police report.
Back at Mad Greek, “the safe was damaged where they cut into it, and the burglars damaged two of the cash registers and some of our computer equipment,” Fuller said.
According to the police report, the suspect took about $2,500 at Mad Greek. Owners said they had to shut down to clean up the mess left behind by the burglar.
But not at Bella Vita. Rugovac said, “I can’t close. If I close, it hurts my business, can’t pay rent, can’t pay bills.”
And Rugovac says the customers responded. He said, “they kept coming because they heard about it and they want to support us. I didn’t have a cash register so a customer gave me a cash register, didn’t let me pay for it, so I gave him a chicken salad.”
Surveillance video of at least two of the targeted businesses caught the suspects on camera.
If you have any information that can help Johnson City police with these investigations, call: 423.434.6166.
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