Food cart owners beef up security after summer begins with break-ins

Longtime food cart loses thousands in burglary

Ten thousand cruise passengers poured into Juneau on Tuesday, with many of them making their way past food carts on South Franklin Street.

 

The street was bustling, with people from all over the world stopping to take a selfie or try to get a perfect shot of Mount Juneau for their Instagram account while shopping at one of the carts.

At night, however, the scene isn’t quite as busy or well-documented.

In recent weeks, there have been two break-ins to food carts and one break-in at The Grind Coffee nearby at 489 S. Franklin Street. The Crepe Escape, which is now in its 10th year in the area, was burglarized the weekend of May 4, and 60 Degrees N. Coffee and Tea was also broken into the same weekend.

Amanda Kohan, owner of the Crepe Escape, said they had been broken into about five years ago and cash was taken, but this was much worse. The burglar cleaned the place out, stealing the cash register, the company’s iPad, cooking equipment, ingredients and even soap. The burglar even stole the security cameras, Kohan said, which has made it difficult to track down the person.

The Juneau Police Department estimated the value of the stolen items at $1,500, but Kohan said the total losses are closer to $4,000. They still opened on time last week, Kohan said, but they’re still restocking their supplies.

Kohan and the shop’s manager Amy Blackwell hurriedly dished out crepes as customers kept coming by Tuesday, as business hasn’t slowed at all. They said they’ve fixed the door that was pried open two weeks ago, and they’ve installed a new and stronger security system.

Still, they said, they don’t feel totally at ease.

“It definitely feels like a different environment downtown,” Blackwell said. “From a small business standpoint, it feels like you’re a lot more vulnerable. Small businesses are obviously less secure. We don’t have a building or hard walls.”

Kohan said almost everything stolen from the Crepe Escape is lost. A few canned goods were recovered, but that was it. She agreed with Blackwell that most of the carts are just not designed to be impenetrable.

“If they want to get in,” Kohan said, “they’re going to get in.”

Juneau Police Department Lt. Krag Campbell said food carts are a little more vulnerable than many other businesses, due to their setups and the poor lighting in the area. Campbell also said officers are usually too busy addressing problems with fights or drunken illegal activities a little farther up Franklin.

“They’re downtown,” Campbell said of the food carts, “but off the beaten path.”

Campbell said it’s not unusual to see a couple food cart break-ins per year. He said it’s smart to take valuables (like a cash register) away from the cart after closing time. Another suggestion he has for owners of food carts is to light their area at night to try and deter would-be burglars.

One of the businesses to do that is the one located right between the Crepe Escape and 60 Degrees N. Coffee and Tea: The Port Local Goods Market. The Port, which opened last year, was not burglarized.

One of the owners, Max Stanley, said Tuesday that the shop is built in a shipping container, making it easier to lock up. They also string lights from their shop, which he pointed out. There are no doors to break into, Stanley said, and they also have a SimplySafe security system installed.

Stanley said he was impressed with the police response to the break-ins, as officers came by soon afterward and gave out their personal cellphone numbers to business owners in case they needed to alert police of more break-ins or suspicious characters.

Even with business owners taking the strictest of security measures, Campbell said, it’s still wise to not keep anything too valuable in the businesses after dark.

“I wouldn’t leave anything locked up that you’re worried about getting stolen,” Campbell said.


• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or amccarthy@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.


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