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Burglar hits 3 La Cañada businesses in overnight smash-and-grab break-ins

Burglar hits 3 La Cañada businesses in overnight smash-and-grab break-ins
Taco Deli and Stella's Pizza Kitchen were two of three businesses on the 400 block of Foothill Boulevard hit by someone who smashed open their storefront doors early Tuesday and grabbed the register trays. Smoothie Stop, at 442 Foothill, was also burglarized. (Sara Cardine)

Three business owners came to work on the 400 block of Foothill Boulevard Tuesday morning to find their storefront doors smashed open and register drawers damaged or missing following of a series of overnight smash-and-grab burglaries, sheriff’s officials reported.

Lt. Mark Slater of the Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station said deputies received a call at around 5:23 a.m. Tuesday from Taco Deli at 456 Foothill Blvd. and responded on scene seven minutes later to discover the store’s glass door had been smashed open.

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“They also saw two other businesses in the same shopping center, Smoothie Stop and Stella’s Pizza [Kitchen], also had their front doors smashed,” Slater said in an email, confirming all three properties checked clear of any suspects.

By later that morning the glass had been cleaned up and all three businesses were fully operational, though temporarily doorless. Robert Ananian, who opened Stella’s Pizza Kitchen next door to Taco Deli in late January, said he got a call from the sheriff’s station at around 6 a.m. informing him of the break-in.

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“They took the actual cash drawer, which was empty, and they got the tip jar — there was a couple bucks in it,” the shop owner said, noting he’s been running businesses for more than 20 years and had never been burglarized until Tuesday.

Next door, Taco Deli owner Julie Sarkissian was busy arranging for the delivery of a new glass pane for her front door. She said she came to work after 5 a.m. and saw Ananian’s front door had been smashed.

“Then I looked at our door and ours was the same. There was glass all over the place,” she said. “When I saw that I called 911.”

As with Stella’s, the only things apparently stolen from Taco Deli were the register trays and the roughly $300 they contained. Tuesday’s incident marked the first time the store had been hit since it opened 20 years years ago.

“We’re grateful because somebody could have been here and gotten hurt,” Sarkissian said, adding she’s planning to install an updated alarm system.

At 442 Foothill, Smoothie Stop owner Diju Then said she, too, received a call from the sheriff’s station informing her that business had also been burglarized. Unlike the other two businesses, Then had surveillance cameras that captured the break-in.

Footage shoes a man in a jacket and baseball cap using an unseen object to smash open the front door at around 2:30 a.m. He walks in and immediately approaches the register.

“They took the money from the register, then they took the register tray away and just ran,” Then said, adding that not much cash was taken. “When I heard the message from the sheriff’s [department], I was seriously scared. I was shaking.”

Smoothie Stop opened in 2013 but has never had a serious brush with crime until Tuesday. Then said she’ll take greater efforts in the future to further secure the property.

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