Three La Cañada restaurants burglarized, adding to recent string of similar crimes


Three Foothill Boulevard restaurants — DISH restaurant, Taylor’s Steakhouse and Garden Grill — were burglarized by a pair of suspects overnight Feb.16-17, adding to a growing number of commercial break-ins sheriff’s officials believe are likely crimes of opportunity.

Lt. Randy Tuinstra, watch commander for the Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station, reported Friday that two men, whose car was stopped by a Glendale Police officer on the morning of Wednesday Feb. 17, matched the description of two burglary suspects seen on video-surveillance camera breaking into DISH Restaurant.

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The gloved burglars reportedly broke into the business shortly after 2 a.m., ransacked several offices and stole currency, a watch and two gold rings in the process. Access was gained through a back door which had been pried open, Tuinstra said.

The suspects, described as black males from the city of Long Beach, were found in possession of burglary tools and items possibly connecting them to the break-in at DISH and another burglary that occurred shortly before 3 a.m. at Taylor’s Steak House, where a side door had been pried open.

In that crime, the suspects ripped an alarm system box from the wall and ransacked the owner’s office, stealing currency and several nylon bags containing cash, rolls of quarters and receipts from an unlocked safe.

“They went in and stole whatever they could in the time that they had,” Tuinstra said.

A third restaurant, Garden Grill, on Foothill at Ocean View Boulevard, was also burglarized sometime in the night, according to an employee who would not give his name. The employee said the suspects smashed at least one glass window to gain entry.

Tuinstra did not confirm whether the same suspects may have committed the crime, but a sheriff’s report of the incident indicated intruders ransacked the office and stole a bag containing cash, in addition to the store’s cash register drawer.

Evidence connected to the burglary at Taylor’s was found later that morning by La Cañada resident Samantha Heer, who was out dog-walking with a friend at the corner of Oakwood Avenue and Houseman Street at around 9 a.m.

While trying to dispose of an empty vodka bottle they’d found on a lawn at a nearby recycling bin, they noticed several brightly colored nylon pouches in and around the bin and in a nearby storm drain. The friends retrieved the pouches and noticed they contained receipts from Taylor’s Steak House, all dated Tuesday, Feb. 16. Some contained cash in varying amounts, adding up to what Heer estimated was about $500.

“We were trying to figure out if some sort of robbery had happened,” Heer said Friday. “We could never figure out why some had cash and some didn’t. (But) we decided we should bring them back up to Taylor’s.”

There, an appreciative manager thanked the residents for their good deed and informed sheriff’s deputies of the retrieval.

Tuinstra said the two men were arrested for reasonable cause burglary and were being detained by Glendale Police and that investigators from the Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station were still considering the extent of the crimes and what was stolen.

The three similarly timed incidents follow another threesome of break-ins that occurred Jan. 19, when suspects pried open the doors of AIA Insurance Agents, Inc., Min’s Kitchen and See’s Candies. Those suspects, who officials believe are not the same people arrested last week, are still at large.

Another business, Flintridge Pharmacy, was broken into just after midnight on Feb. 10, according to sheriff’s reports. In that incident, the suspect(s) used a piece of concrete to shatter the glass storefront as well as a glass interior door leading to the pharmacy. It’s unknown what, if anything, may have been taken.

Tuinstra said if there’s been any uptick in the number of commercial burglaries, it’s likely due to La Cañada’s proximity to several freeways, which provide easy exits for fleeing criminals.

“All these are opportunity crimes; we just offer a good opportunity because of our location,” the watch commander said. “They can get it done and be on the freeway and gone before deputies even show up.”