A string of restaurant burglaries in Moreno Valley has business owners and authorities on high alert.
A total of four burglaries happened Tuesday morning, three of which happened at restaurants in the same shopping center.
Just before 5 a.m., the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department began receiving reports of multiple commercial burglary alarms going off in the shopping center, which is located on the 27100 block of Eucalyptus Avenue.
The early-morning burglaries all happened within minutes of each other as burglars left doors and windows shattered during the break-ins.
Usually, Burger Im is bustling with customers and workers in the kitchen whipping up burgers and fries. But on Tuesday, it was quiet as the restaurant was forced to close after burglars broke in.
Franchise owner Nicholas Baker says the burglary marks yet another loss. More than $10,000 was taken in cash and that doesn’t include the cost of damages. He says it’s not the first time the restaurant has been the victim of a break-in.
“This is the fourth time this year, probably the sixth time since we opened,” Baker told KTLA.
The break-in at Burger Im was one of four burglaries in Moreno Valley that happened within just minutes of each other.
An employee at the nearby Alberto’s Mexican Food, which is located in the same shopping center, said two people wearing masks broke into the business with a crowbar as they apparently searched for cash.
Surveillance video showed the two masked men as they made their way through the business looking to take whatever they could find.
Simon Wu, who works at China One, a restaurant within the shopping center, said the thieves took cash, an iPad and several items from the kitchen.
Sgt. Brandi Swan described the suspects as two Black men who were gone before deputies arrived on scene.
The day did not end for deputies with just the commercial burglaries. About 20 minutes after the calls at the shopping center, deputies were dispatched to a residential burglary at a home about a mile away.
Thieves broke in and stole a lockbox filled with jewelry and a weapon. The homeowner meanwhile, was armed with a gun and fired at the intruders, which apparently scared them off.
The homeowner told KTLA that they felt “violated” and unsafe after having their home ransacked.
Authorities say the burglaries at the shopping center and the nearby home are not believed to be related, but the crimes shed a light on a growing problem across Riverside County.
This year alone, there have been more than 6,000 burglaries across the county in commercial and residential settings, officials said.