By Becky Billingsley
Wednesday, August 1, 2012, Myrtle Beach – Andrew Fuchs, owner of Brat Haus in Longs had his restaurant broken into early on the morning of July 26, but says he feels fortunate the robbers were “dumb.”
Smash and grabs – when a thief smashes through a door or window of a building or car and grabs whatever looks valuable before making a fast getaway – are happening throughout Horry County, but there are ways to make a business, home or car less attractive to burglars.
Myrtle Beach and Horry County Police officers have received dozens of reports this year of thieves smashing car windows to quickly remove GPS devices, satellite radios, purses and other valuables. The cars can be at a public beach access, in a parking lot or parking garage or even in homeowners’ driveways.
On July 20, three Myrtle Beach businesses – two restaurants and a liquor store – were hit with smash and grabs within two hours. On July 26, two restaurants close to each other in the Longs area were broken into in quick succession.
One of those restaurant owners is Andrew Fuchs, of Brat Haus at 7050 S.C. 90 E. in Longs.
“They ripped out both cash drawers with little in [them] and ran,” he said, “but left the expensive receipt printers untouched. We were up and running again by Thursday lunch and have replaced the cash drawers and the door windowpane. Even with the ADT alarm system, the robbers were gone when the police arrived only about five minutes after the alarm was tripped…The same dumb crooks tried to break into the Southern Caviar bar next door and probably some other places along Highway 90.”
Fuchs said the experience helped him learn how to better protect his business to prevent making his restaurant attractive to burglars.
“We learned from it to leave the drawers on both registers open at night so you can see there is nothing in it, and the new windowpane is laminated glass, so it’s a lot harder to get through in a hurry.”
Fuchs’ advice is sound. Here are more tips offered by many law enforcement officials around the world who say a bit of prevention can help make your business or car less attractive to thieves.
~ Alarm systems help, because that puts the burglars on notice they have only minutes before police officers will be on the scene. Alarms that make a loud noise are great for getting thieves to leave quickly. Be sure to post a conspicuous sign saying the business has an alarm system.
~ Even if you have an alarm system, if at all possible don’t leave valuable items where they can be seen from a window. This goes for businesses as well as cars.
“Think of your car as a mini sunroom,” an Horry County officer recently told a group of homeowners whose Socastee neighborhood has experienced several smash and grab car thefts this summer. Taking the time to remove valuables from your car when you get home, or putting items such as GPS devices out of sight when away from home, removes temptation for many thieves looking for an easy score.
If your car has a trunk, that’s a good place to lock up valuables, but be sure no one is around who might be interested in seeing what you’re locking away.
~In a building, consider locking valuables in a safe – and be sure the safe is bolted down.
~Lighten things up. Floodlights around business doors and windows, street lights in parking lots and floodlights aimed at driveways will remove the cover of darkness that burglars want. Lights that come on when motion is sensed are a good deterrent.
~Make windows and doors harder to open. There are window films that make glass stronger, special break-resistant glass, roll-down metal panels and iron bars. If you go with bars, install them behind the glass so the glass must be broken (and therefore will trip the alarm system) before the thieves can try to get through the bars. Also ensure these measures you take meet fire safety codes.
~Consider installing reinforced doors, hinges that can’t be popped out and learn how to secure skylights, air ducts and other roof openings.
~Surveillance cameras have come down in price in recent years. The sight of them can deter burglars, and if they don’t stop them, the tape might help catch them and get the crooks off the streets.
Andrew Fuchs at Brat Haus feels lucky that he had nothing worse to deal with after his break-in than a mess.
“Let’s hope that was the only time we have to clean up,” he said. “That was the biggest problem, to get all that shattered glass out of the restaurant in time [to open for the day].”