3 suspects sought in 3rd break-in at South Anchorage smoke shop
Three break-ins in three months — that’s the reality that 907 Vapes E-Cigs’ shop owner Jesse James is dealing with.
The most recent burglary happened early Saturday morning. On Monday, the South Anchorage smoke shop stood with another window boarded up, but the doors are still open for business.
James is all smiles to the customers who come through the doors, adding that he’s trying to maintain an outward appearance that everything’s OK.
“I’m an emotional wreck right now,” said the 31-year-old Anchorage man. “I’m pretty distraught, because this is the third successful break-in where we’ve lost a significant amount of property and a lot of damage.”
This time, James was able to get the suspects on video — which he shared just hours later on the shop’s Facebook page.
“It appears to be the same people,” James said. “It looks like three teenage kids.”
Those sentiments were echoed in the comments of the Facebook posts. This is the second time James says he’s caught them on video, but as to who they are — that’s still a mystery.
After the Anchorage Police Department was dispatched to 907 Vapes just before 4:30 a.m. on Saturday, a K-9 was sent to assist in the search for the suspects, but that search was unsuccessful.
Being continually targeted with no suspects taken into custody yet is what James says “hurts a lot.” Those sentiments were also echoed on social media.
“This is getting old,” one of the comments reads. “This is my favorite vape shop, this sickens me.”
James says, as a business owner, “it makes me just want to fold up and close up shop and go home” — adding that he has a family to support.
“This impacts our livelihood,” he said. “And it angers me to no end.”
APD spokeswoman Jennifer Castro says it’s estimated that the damage of Saturday’s burglary extends into the thousands of dollars, with the suspects taking products and breaking the glass to enter the store. In the April burglaries, there was a bullet hole through one of the display cases and a flat-screen TV in the shop’s lounge was destroyed.
The shop is now equipped with both a surveillance system and an alarm system — which is all James says he can do at the moment. For now, it’s just a matter of cleaning up and moving forward.
“We do have our faithful customer base, and they come in and they support us,” James said. “And we’re helping people quit smoking. And I’d hate to go away.”
As for the thought of a future break-in, the shop owner says he hopes APD is able to respond faster next time.
“According to the video time, I was three minutes late,” he said. “And the officers were about three minutes behind me.
James says that speaks to APD’s staffing issues.
“We’ve got great officers, men and women that are out there patrolling and enforcing the law, but we just need more,” James said. “I believe that if we had more, these guys would’ve been caught this time.”
APD says this case and the two previous cases are still under investigation. Anyone with information is asked to contact APD or, to provide an anonymous crime tip and be eligible for a cash reward, call Crime Stoppers at 561-STOP or submit a tip online.
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