Smash-and-grab bandits strike again in South Valley, business owners say string of crimes connected

PORTERVILLE, Calif. (KFSN) -- Smash-and-grab thieves struck again in the South Valley early Friday morning, in what appears to be a growing trend.

This time they got away, but not before being captured on camera while committing the brazen burglary in Porterville.

"I was thinking it was going to be just like the last time where it was just broken glass, but this time they backed up into the whole thing," said Marian Gutierrez, owner of Le Pink Chateau.

Gutierrez says her business has been targeted two times in the past, but this time the brazen thieves backed into the store and shattered a glass window before taking off with $2000 worth in merchandise

They were not the only business hit early Friday morning, a nearby Boot Barn was also targeted and police think it's the same crooks.

"Amongst some of the items that were taken were jeans, boots, cowboy hats. Officers obtained a preliminary estimate of the loss of merchandise at $5,000 and damage to the building $5,000," explained Sergeant Mark Hatch with the Porterville Police Department.

Not far away in Tulare, another Boot Barn store was hit in a very similar crime.

Police can't say if the crimes are connected, but they don't believe Boot Barn stores are being specifically targeted.

Gutierrez thinks the same criminals are responsible because of how they continue to back into stores to make an entrance.

"I think it might be the same person that's doing this or the same group, and I think they are doing it in the same style because it's pretty similar," said Gutierrez.

Porterville police do believe both thefts on Friday are connected, but are waiting on future investigations to determine if other instances across the Valley are related.

"Based on the similarities, burglaries as well as the time frame, we believe these are related, we're still actively pursuing the investigation," added Sgt. Hatch.

The owner of Le Pink Chateau tells Action News that it will be weeks before her windows are replaced and she hopes by then police will have more answers as to who is committing these crimes.

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