When Collette Costa, co-owner of the Gold Town Nickelodeon, arrived at the movie theater on Monday, March 12, she knew immediately something was wrong.
The door to the box office was ajar, and when she walked in she saw that the cash register was gone. It was clearly a rushed job, she noticed, as the key to open the register was still in the box office.
Four days later, it happened again. This time, the burglar spent much more time in there. Papers were rifled through, mail was opened, multiple hard drives were stolen (with business files on them but no customer information, Costa said), snacks were scattered around the counter and another money box had been raided.
“They just had a good old time. … They were pretty thorough,” Costa said.
Security footage from the second break-in at the theater (which happened at about 3 a.m. March 16) shows a person in a bright green coat and blue shoes — not exactly inconspicuous, Costa pointed out.
On her weekly email to people on the theater’s email list and other business owners, Costa included a small note at the end informing people of the burglaries. The responses started coming quickly, from business owners and residents sharing their stories of people breaking in or stealing items.
Just two days prior to the first break-in at the Gold Town, someone broke into Rainbow Foods early on the morning of March 10, owner David Ottoson said. The intruder pried open a back window and made their way to where the store keeps its money, walking out of there with about $1,600, Ottoson estimated.
Security cameras at Rainbow Foods caught footage of the burglar, but Ottoson said the burglar was heavily clothed and had his or her face covered. Juneau Police Department spokesperson Lt. Krag Campbell said JPD is waiting for video to be given to JPD to help with the department’s investigation.
Around the corner from Rainbow Foods, Holy Trinity Episcopal Church is getting used to dealing with property crime. Parish Administrator Alison Talley said they often find little items missing, like wall decorations.
“We live with that,” Talley said, “like everybody in downtown does.”
Most recently, Holy Trinity found that a light board (which controls the lighting for events held at McPhetres Hall) went missing. They reported that to police March 6. Campbell said JPD has not determined whether it was a burglary.
Talley said the light board (estimated to be worth $4,000) isn’t used very often, so they’re not sure when exactly it went missing. The fact that it hasn’t been seen for a while, Campbell wrote in an email, makes it difficult to know whether it was a burglary or whether it went missing in some other way.
A ‘crazy’ situation
According to JPD last January, property crime increased 28 percent from 2015 to 2016 and burglaries increased by 60 percent from 2014 to 2016. JPD has attributed this to increasing amounts of drug abuse (and people steal to pay for drugs) and Senate Bill 91 dictating that they end up letting non-violence offenders go after many minor crimes.
Ottoson, who has owned Rainbow Foods for 38 years, said he’s had more problems in the past 10 years than he had in the previous 28 years but still isn’t overly concerned.
“I hear people say that it’s gotten worse,” Ottoson said. “I don’t know if it’s gotten a lot worse in the last few years.”
Talley said she feels the situation downtown has gotten “crazy” with property crimes, and criminals seem to have gotten even bolder. Costa feels the same way, as she and friends of hers still see the man with a green coat and blue shoes around town. One time, she even pointed the man out to a police officer, who talked with the man but told Costa he did not feel he had enough evidence to determine whether it was the same man. Campbell said the case is currently under investigation.
Costa said the lack of results has been frustrating. She’s well connected downtown, and said she hears frequently about other businesses being broken into without the burglar ever being caught.
“I feel as if we are stagnant in anything being done and any progress being made toward what’s happening,” Costa said.
• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.