Three suspects were believed to have burglarized nine businesses in south Orange County on Jan. 11 between midnight and 2 a.m., according to authorities.
The targeted businesses were all food establishments within strip malls, Orange County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Sgt. Mike Woodruff told The Epoch Times. He said five businesses in Rancho Santa Margarita, two in Mission Viejo, and two more in Laguna Hills were hit.
The same suspects are believed to have carried out all of the thefts, Woodruff said.
The alleged suspects used the same method for each break-in: smashing windows and opening cash registers, attempting to collect money before fleeing, Woodruff said.
“It’s just a crime of opportunity,” he said. “Smashing out one window, going in and sacking the cash register and then coming out, looking around, and believing they haven’t been noticed, and then they smash the window next door.”
According to authorities, the two eateries burglarized in Laguna Hills were near the intersection of La Paz Road and Cabot Road. The two in Mission Viejo were near the Estanciero Drive and Marguerite Parkway intersection.
The five eateries in Rancho Santa Margarita were in the 30000 block of Avenida de Las Flores.
One of them Selma’s Chicago Pizzeria.
Mike Phillips, the owner, told The Epoch Times this is the second burglary since he opened the restaurant 20 years ago. The last incident occurred last year, where the thieves stole an even larger amount of cash, he said.
“[This] is concerning,” he said. “It’s going in the wrong direction.”
Phillips said his restaurant’s security footage was able to capture video of two suspects who entered his store, with faces clearly visible.
“I hope we catch them. I sent some video to the police, to the sheriff’s department, and to the news stations, so hopefully with the videos I have we can identify them,” he said.
The sheriff’s department confirmed Philly’s Best, located near Selma’s Chicago Pizzeria, was also burglarized.
Next door, a Starbucks employee told The Epoch Times their store was also hit. A spokesperson for the company was not immediately available for comment.