Thieves target Triangle restaurants already struggling amid pandemic

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Hundreds of restaurants across the Triangle are already struggling as sales are down due to COVID-19.

On top of that, some restaurants have been hit with thieves who are going after what little cash they have left.

The Palace International, an African restaurant on Broad Street in Durham, was broken into sometime overnight on Tuesday.

Owner Moses Ochola said his staff came in this morning to find lots of glass where someone broke in through a window.

This is the second time the Palace International has been burglarized in ten days.

“We hadn’t had a chance to fix the window that was broken last time,” Ochola said.

Ochola said last time the thieves got away with their cash register, safe, and some cameras. He said altogether the thieves took somewhere between $800 – $1200 in cash.

This second time, he said no cash was taken.

“The staff is a bit shaken,” Ochola said.

Ochola said the community had rallied around his restaurant last week as they raised thousands of dollars to help them out.

“I just put up a post thanking the community,” Ochola said. “I just emailed people who had reached out to us. And then the next morning, to wake up to this was disheartening.”

Ochola said his restaurant has already lost 30 to 60 percent in revenue through this pandemic and these break-ins are only adding on to this hardship.

“We’re hoping that we can get through this,” Ochola said.

According to the Durham Police Department, there have been 85 burglaries reported from Oct. 1st – Oct. 17, and ten of those burglaries occurred at restaurants.

Restaurants in Carrboro are also experiencing either burglaries or attempted break-ins.

Rae Mosher is the general manager of Carrburritos on West Rosemary Street in Carrboro.

Carrburritos (Carrboro, NC; CBS 17)

She said her prep cook came in at 4:30 on Tuesday morning to find the front door of the restaurant had been shattered.

Thankfully no one got in, but she said repairing the damage won’t be cheap.

“It’s disappointing because right now there is so much to struggle with,” Mosher said. “It’s an inconvenient cost and it’s money we don’t have lying around.”

Mosher said her revenue is down 20 percent. She recently turned parking spots into an outdoor dining area that’s helped boost her sales.

But with cooler weather on the way, she said she is a bit concerned people won’t be able to eat outside.

“I’m really concerned about when the winter comes how we’ll be able to keep the business up,” Mosher said. “We’re just sort of going to hold our breath and hope for the best.”

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