Burglars twice struck Edward Ford-Ball’s South Tennessee Street business — Cartersville Consignment Thrift — in November. During both incidents, the suspects made entry through a rear door that was bent upward and outward to gain access. Electronics and a cash register were taken each time.
Ford-Ball said he believes the thieves strike during the overnight hours because a tractor-trailer delivering to a local business parks in front of the rear entrance, providing a visual cover and noise protection.
“I’m just thinking because the 18-wheeler is shielding and running all night long that it’s the perfect cover. ... That’s the thing that’s odd. ... Even though we had washing machines, refrigerators, all this stuff here that was in front of the door, you’re telling me — I understand the truck’s running — this stuff was not just slid over. It was thrown down, moved. So you’re telling me you don’t hear all the commotion and noise, even though you’re in you’re big truck? You’d think your rig was in jeopardy, you know, if you hear that,” he said.
In the second break-in on Thanksgiving, the suspects took down an exterior power box, which cut the lights and cameras to businesses in the shopping center.
“Somebody is having enough time to take down the electrical box. They took this off the wall. They took it out to shut it down, and the thing about it, they came back and put the wiring back together — they turned the lights back on — but they didn’t put none of the stuff back but they left it where the lights would stay on,” Ford-Ball said.
He believes the suspects knew the cameras were located on the rear of the building and they either walked or parked in an area behind the shopping center.
“This wasn’t nobody walking,” Ford-Ball said. Along with the registers, the thieves took weights from a gym set, 20 tablet computers and cellphones.
The business owner, who has been at the Cartersville location since April, agreed the approaching holiday may have spurred the burglaries.
“They want the cellphones and tablets — electronics, that’s the big thing,” he said. “... They hit us for about $10,000. You think, I had for the holidays ... got in Wednesday five Galaxy Notes. Those are $655 apiece, so it doesn’t take long with cellphones. Then I had 20 tablets because I had a big offering on Facebook for a promotion. ... Then we walk in the door Black Friday and the majority of our merchandise is gone.
“... I had two Confederate flag cases I posted on Facebook, and when they broke in, out of all the cases on the wall, those are the only two cases they took.”
According to crimemapping.com, Ford-Ball is not the only target in the area since Nov. 1. A burglary was reported in the 300 block of South Tennessee Street on Nov. 12, another in the 500 block on Nov. 28 and yet another in the 200 block on Nov. 30.
Also reported within less than a mile radius were a handful of theft/larceny cases, three motor vehicle thefts, assaults and a fraud incident.
Ford-Ball said one of the neighboring businesses had $3,000 stolen.
Police, he said, offer little in the way of leads.
“He just told me maybe get a deer camera and put it up so maybe it’d take pictures,” Ford-Ball said. “They got excellent fingerprints, but they said it would be two, three years maybe.”
For other business owners, the best advice Ford-Ball can give is increase protective measures.
“I really just say lots of security, lots of cameras. I really say go wireless definitely for security; do not use phone lines anymore,” he said.
Residents and shoppers also are encouraged to be aware of their surroundings and follow precautions to prevent being the target of criminals this holiday season:
• Exercise caution at ATMs. Thousands of dollars change hands at stores and banks this time of year. Potential thieves know that ATMs make good places to target victims withdrawing funds for purchases. Shoppers should choose ATMs that are well lit and withdraw money only when banks are open. If that's not possible, avoid using ATMs in remote locations or dark alcoves. Keep your eyes fixed on your surroundings and be aware of the people in your vicinity. Promptly pocket your money and do not openly display your cash.
• Keep purchases out of view. When shopping, keep your purchases hidden from prospective thieves. Make frequent trips to your car when shopping and store merchandise in the trunk of your car or in a cargo area with a cover drawn. Once items have been brought home, keep them well out of sight, stored in closets or away from windows.
• Only park in well-lit lots. Finding a parking space at a busy mall can be difficult, but be picky when choosing spots. Try to park in a well-lit area in a busy location and be aware of the surrounding vehicles. If you feel uncomfortable going back to your car, ask a security guard to escort you.
• Shop in groups. Go to the store with a group of friends. There is safety in numbers and having more eyes to look out is to your advantage. Thieves are less likely to approach a group of people than a solitary person.
• Carry minimal items. Always keep your hands free to ward off any people in the event of an attack. Bags and packages weighing you down make you an easy target.
• Leave extra credit cards at home. Carry only what you need on a shopping excursion. Do not carry your entire wallet or extra credit cards. This only puts you at greater risk of identity theft or fraud should you lose your wallet.