Burglary growing concern

By Mickey Winfield: PNT Staff Writer

Sheila Hays doesn’t want other Portales business owners to go through what she has been dealing with the last two weeks.

About a week-and-a-half ago, Sheila’s Classy to Whimsy specialty store in Portales was broken into and over $10,000 worth of merchandise was pilfered.

“(I) feel very violated. It’s a nightmare,” Hays said. “You bust your rear to make something and have something nice for the community, and something like this happens.”

“Anytime you start hearing about somebody getting broken into, it starts to make you a little bit concerned, because it’s usually not an issue here,” Big League Sports owner Chuck Abbott said.

In the days since the incident, Hays said she has added numerous cameras and monitors to her business.

“It’s a lot of added expense that you shouldn’t have to have,” Hays said. “But it’s comfort for leaving your business knowing that when you come back, you’re going to have something.”

Portales police captain Lonnie Berry characterized burglaries as very difficult to solve.

“They are fairly difficult (to solve),” Berry said. “A lot of times we don’t have very much information to go on.”

There were 170 burglaries reported in Portales in 2007, the most in the last five years, according to the Portales Police Department’s annual report.

“I don’t have a lot of faith in the police around here at all,” Hays said. “I’ve had four things happen to me since I opened my business five years ago and I’ve not had one thing solved or done.”

“Our experiences are that a burglary doesn’t solve very quickly,” Berry said. “What may be very frustrating for a property owner, isn’t as (frustrating) for us because they may solve a month or two later on. We may begin work on another case and the property develops then, or we may get information later on that helps to resolve that particular crime.”

“We understand the victim wants it resolved and wants it resolved very quickly, when it may not happen that way. And we’re more aware that the crime may not be resolved for a longer period of time,” Berry said.

Berry does offer some tips to keep your home, business and vehicle safe from break-in.

“Probably the biggest thing that really helps is lighting. Make sure that you have really good, adequate lighting. Make sure that you secure really well,” Berry said. “Most of the auto burglaries that we’ve had recently have been as a result of the vehicles not being locked. So make sure that you lock your residence and make sure that everything is secured well.”

After being victimized, Hays has some common sense tips of her own.

“Be sure and add extra security,” Hays said. “And check on your business while you’re out and about and have friends and neighbors watch it while they’re driving by at night.”

Hays said that local business owners plan to gather at the Crimestoppers meeting Monday at noon.

“We’re trying to watch out for one another as business owners,” Hays said. “And let one another know what’s going on.”

“Most people don’t have to take a lot of extra measures,” Abbott said. “But if this is going to start to become an issue — if more and more people are going to start to have problems of people breaking in, than everybody will have to start looking more seriously at that. It’s just a sign of the time.”