Tower District business owners take extreme measures to protect shop from thieves

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On Saturday, a thief shattered glass to steal shirts, but now the owners are working to protect what's left. (KFSN)

A business in the Tower District is taking extreme measures to keep thieves from breaking in.

The Free Bird Company has been hit several times over the years. Most recently, on Saturday, a thief shattered glass to steal shirts, but now they're working to protect what's left.

For the past few days, Linda Whisenant has been standing guard in the Tower District. She's personally protecting her store with her husband, even after the doors close.

"The police force can't be everywhere at all times," she said. "So, everybody has to defend their own property."

Her sense of security was shattered on Saturday when a thief used a river rock to break in and steal 40 NFL tie-dye shirts from the racks.

"They're obviously going to get noticed if they have it out in the community," Whisenant said. "Because we're the only ones who have it, so it's going to be a hard thing to hide."

The suspect was gone within two minutes and left Whisenant with a $1,500 loss and a hole in the front door.

"It was just a mess," she said. "Glass inside, glass outside."

The thief was caught on camera, but only Fresno Police have the video. Whisenant has every angle of the store covered with 13 surveillance cameras, and she also has alarms and motion sensors.

"All we're trying to do is defend the store," Whisenant said.

They're all expensive upgrades that were installed over the years following one other break-in and several other shattered windows.

"We want to stop defending and start growing," she said. "We just haven't been able to do it because this stuff keeps setting us back."

Outside the store, other businesses have similar scars and Whisenant has struggled with thoughts of closing.

"That was our first thought," she said. "We can't take anymore, we got to go."

She says her love for the Tower District is too strong.

"We can't let the actions of a few low-lives dictate what we do with our future," Whisenant said.

So for now, she will stand her ground and hope for the best.

"We just want to think positive in 2017 that it's just going to be different," she said.

Related Topics:
newsburglaryfresno police departmentfresnoFresno - Tower District
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