‘All I could do was watch’: Immigrant shop owner’s Santa Monica business trashed

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Moe, owner of Santa Monica Tobacco, walks through his business, which was looted and burned Sunday in Santa Monica on May 31, 2020.(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Moe, owner of Santa Monica Tobacco, walks through his business, which was looted and burned Sunday in Santa Monica on May 31, 2020.(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

The reality programming got all too real Sunday afternoon for the owner of a Santa Monica smoke shop known around the neighborhood as Moe’s.

The small-businessman had retreated to his home 10 minutes from the 4th Street shop when his in-store security cameras began to transmit sickening images. Intruders in masks and bandanas had pried open a security gate and smashed through his front door.

Now they were rummaging through Santa Monica Tobacco as though they owned the place. They took cigarettes, cigars, lighters and tobacco. One man grabbed piles of lottery tickets. Others smashed display cases. One crew came with a sledgehammer and pounded away until they broke open an ATM machine, emptying its cash. On the way out, many stopped to grab a snack and a drink.

“All I could do was watch. I couldn’t do anything,” said Moe, the owner, who declined to give his last name. “It felt like everything that I had worked to build for 18 years they could just wipe out in a matter of minutes.”

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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