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Burglars hitting restaurants, prompting owner’s call for city to do more


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    MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO ) — The owner of a popular St. Paul brunch spot burglarized overnight says criminals are getting too brazen — and he has the surveillance video to prove it.

The Gnome Craft Pub on Selby Avenue, a popular St. Paul brunch spot, was burglarized at about 3 a.m. Sunday. Owner Brian Ingram, who owns Purpose Driven Restaurants, says this overnight robbery is the second at one of his businesses in the past week. Two thieves broke into The Gnome’s third-floor office and ripped out a 400-pound safe that was bolted to the ground. They dragged it down all three flights of stairs and got the safe into a car parked out back. The safe held all the cash set aside for staff tips.

“It’s not the money that they’re stealing, it’s the damage they do to the building when you bust holes in walls and rip doors off,” Ingram said.

Ingram has over 20 security cameras inside and outside of his restaurant that captured the thieves committing the crime, and he keeps the area extremely well lit — yet none of those obstacles are deterring these thieves.

“It’s just so brazen,” Ingram said. “They’re just not afraid.”

He says his restaurants are not the only ones recently targeted. St. Paul police say this year 30 businesses have been robbed already, compared to 23 at this time last year.

“It’s just scary how quick they can get in and out of all of these restaurants, all of us are saying the same thing,” Ingram said.

He is calling on elected officials to be more outspoken about this repeated crime, and work cohesively with business owners to stop it.

“If we don’t all come together — politicians, business owners, neighborhoods — we’re dead in the water, and I think that’s what’s hurting us right now,” Ingram said.

He says these crimes have a ripple effect. Customers are cancelling reservations because they’re afraid. While these break-ins typically happen after hours, he’s making changes for everyone’s safety.

“We’re taking even more precautions now, hiring security companies to be in the parking lot, to patrol around us,” Ingram said.

WCCO reached out to St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter Sunday, who said in a statement that he’s working closely with community members and the police department to adjust public safety strategies.

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