Burglar breaks into several Riverside businesses through ceiling, police say

Rob McMillan Image
Wednesday, July 26, 2023
Burglar breaks into several Riverside businesses through ceiling
A skillful burglar broke into several Riverside businesses by going through the ceiling last Thursday.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (KABC) -- Riverside police are investigating a series of commercial burglaries that happened in the span of one night that all have one thing in common: The thief entered through the ceiling.

Detectives think the same person is responsible for burglaries at Grapow restaurant in Mission Grove, as well as the Cold Stone Creamery, Men's Blub Barbershop and Hollywood Threading and Spa at a strip mall in Orangecrest.

"He stole a good amount of money," said Alma Surachutikarn, the Grapow general manager. "That, on top of the damages, is hurting us big time."

Surachutikarn said the thief spent a good amount of time inside her business, breaking in through an electrical box on the roof and then crawling on the floor attempting to avoid motion detectors.

"He actually army-crawled all the way on the floor, through the bar to the kitchen and into my office," said Surachutikarn. "He found the office door, was able to find a step stool and climb up again through the roof. He was then able to drop down into our office without setting off any sensors."

The other businesses hit that same morning are about two miles away at a strip mall. While the general manager of the Cold Stone Creamery said the thief only got away with some cookies and ice creams, the owner of Hollywood Threading tells Eyewitness News his losses were much more substantial.

While the owner did not want to disclose his name, he said the thief actually broke into his business twice that morning. One of the items stolen was the portable safe in his office that had more than $100,000 in gold and cashm which he says he was planning to use to buy a home.

"We live in a society where you have to fortify everything you have and you own," said Officer Ryan Railsback with the Riverside Police Department. "Don't leave anything expensive; don't leave a lot of cash in the safe somewhere.

"Business owners need to make sure they're doing those deposits as often as they can, and make sure when you leave that alarm is activated," said Railsback.

Back at Grapow, Surachutikarn said her business was the target of burglars again Tuesday morning. Frustration is mounting because there have been three break-ins so far this year.

"It's been so frustrating because when my people leave here, they don't feel safe. And I'm having to come here at 4 and 5 in the morning to make sure everything is good," she said.