Last week six businesses were burglarized: A beauty salon and florist in northeast Fresno, and in southeast Fresno a pharmacy, pizza parlor, auto parts store and liquor store were hit. In each case the thieves shattered windows to steal cash registers.
The latest surveillance video shows two young thieves smashing through the glass doors of a liquor store at Maple and Church, then ripping the cash registers off the counter. One machine falls apart as the thief tries to wrestle it out the door. Fresno Police Sgt. Mark Hudson says it's the same way they have hit at least five other stores.
"We've had a rash of these break-ins where these two thieves are going around, looking in smaller businesses where the cash registers are visible from outside of the business. They are throwing river rocks into the glass where they enter into the store and then they attack the cash register."
The thieves strike at night when the stores are closed. Three of the stores hit have been in a shopping center at Clovis and Kings Canyon. Police officers went store to store with a warning.
Community Service Officer Lindsay Hughes described the situation to store personnel. "And what they are doing is taking river rocks and smashing the doors and then coming in and they grab the cash register and just run out with the whole cash register."
Police are urging store owners to empty their cash registers before closing, and to leave the empty cash drawer out in the open, so thieves know there's no cash to take.
It's a lesson Hallmark store owner Milt Pearce learned 25 years ago when his store was hit in exactly the same way. "The biggest problem was cleaning up all the glass, luckily we didn't have a lot of money sitting in the register so from now on we leave the drawers open with nothing in them."
The damage to the doors and equipment has been a bigger loss than the cash taken. In most cases the registers had a small amount of money, if any left inside.
Police are urging business to keep cash registers open and empty and to keep anything valuable out of sight.
Anyone who has any information about the break-ins is urged to contact Fresno police.