In Longview, Texas, a burglar broke into an ice machine last month. The criminal’s take? $150.
The damage? $15,000.
The local News-Journal is reporting that local businesses who run coin-operated businesses, including car washes, are repeatedly having to replace expensive equipment worth much more than the cost of the theft. “Because the damage was $15,000, that means that it will be a felony charge against whomever did this,” police said of the ice-machine incident.
In the past six months, records show, there have been six burglaries at car washes. Two of them, on April 27 and May 4, were at a car wash in the 500 block of Pine Tree Road. Four more, on April 16, 27 and 28, and May 5, were at a facility in the 3500 block of Gilmer Road.
“Video is probably the main and best way that they can deter crime at their businesses — inside and outside,” [police spokeswoman Kristie] Brian said.
Video surveillance at the two car washes did not prevent break-ins, but it did help in the investigation. Surveillance pictures helped officers identify a suspect in the string of car wash jobs.
In one case, a suspect confessed that the small take didn’t matter; he needed anything to help feed his methamphetamine addiction. So, aside from installing video — and advertising its presence — what can car wash businesses do to deter crime? Clear your machines every night and post a big sign letting would-be burglars know.