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Okaloosa County business burglaries
Business owners are on guard after a string of smash-and-grab burglaries in downtown Fort Walton Beach. Five businesses have had break-ins since last Thursday. In each case, the thieves got away with cash. At one store, some merchandise was stolen as well.
Laura Hussey "Police might not know who's doing it yet, but the MO has been the same at every business...smashing through a window and going straight for the cash register"
The owner of Dennis and Company has been in retail for twenty-seven years. This is the first time someone has broken into his store.
Dennis Reeves "Never had a concern that when I left my business, that there was going to be a break-in to come to the next day, and that's what we were faced with on Monday morning and obviously we're not happy about it"
Dennis Reeves says the burglars ripped the drawer out of his cash register. They also helped themselves to a couple of armloads of high-fashion clothes.
At Maas Coffee Roasters, the espresso maker is the same, but the cash register is brand new - thieves took the whole machine after they shattered the back door.
Jim Maas/owner "They're looking at places that only have cash registers, or that there might be money. First of all, it's a rear entrance that they're looking for, window, something....smash and grab I think is what they call it on the streets"
Jim Maas is from Cleveland. He says these burglaries aren't frightening crimes, but they do leave a mark.
Jim "You know, you feel like you've been violated, it's just....you know, it's like you're helpless"
The first break-ins were at 3 Dogs and a Chick and Shangri-La Vintage Boutique sometime before dawn Friday. A Cupcakery by the Sea was targeted late Satuday night, along with Maas Ccoffee.
Dennis Reeves grew up in Fort Walton Beach. He worries about where his hometown is heading.
Dennis "The world is definitely not the same place, it's not as safe as it was when we were younger, and that's a sad place to be"
Laura Hussey "Anyone with information on these crimes is asked to call the Fort Walton Beach Police."