The small, family-run business that sells scoops of cold, flavorful deserts, was violated twice by burglars who bashed in the store’s bright colored windows, grabbed cash out of the till and returned the next night to steal the family safe.
“We work really hard — and they do this!” said co-owner Pamela Culbertson, who owns the shop with her husband Brad. “It felt pretty personal, even though I know it’s not. They just come in and tear your place apart.”
The Culbertson’s misfortune is just one of several that have hit local small businesses in Sparks over the last few days. Sparks Police are asking the public for help in finding the male suspects responsible for similar burglaries.
As for Baskin Robbins, the store didn’t skip a beat. The doors were open every day this week, even after the owners had to stay up all night cleaning glass from the floor.
“We boarded it up and fixed it right away,” she said. “It was a bummer.”
Baskin Robbins’ incidents are included in the seven break-ins at local businesses between Sunday and Wednesday.
“We are asking anyone with information about these crimes to call the Sparks Police Department Detective Division,” a post said on the Sparks Police Department website. “At this time, there is no viable suspect information other than males wearing clothing to hide their identity. There is no other information available at this time.”
Detectives Sgt. Marlene Cleveland, handling the case at PJ’s Discount Liquor did not respond to a call about the case Thursday and Rocky Triplett, Detective Division Commander was not available, however.
The case of PJ’s Discount Liquor Store and Baskin Robbins on 1145 North McCarran Blvd. appear to be similar in some aspects, however.
In both cases, the suspects were male, wearing hoodies to cover their identities. Both empties the cash registers and both broke into windows to enter the establishments.
At PJ’s, according to Cleveland’s report, at 4:32 a.m. Wednesday, Sparks Police Department received a call of an activated burglar alarm at PJ’s, 1293 Baring Blvd. When officers arrived, they found several windows of the business were broken.
A search revealed the suspects had entered and the cash register was emptied.
Video surveillance showed two individuals wearing white “hoodies” entered the store through the broken windows, as the suspects did at Baskin Robbins.
Sparks Police did not send out any other written reports about the other burglaries and were not able to be reached for comment Thursday.
The timeline of the burglaries happened as follows:
Sunday: Marble Slab, 2835, North McCarran Blvd.
Sunday: PJ’s PJ’s Discount Liquor, 1293 Baring Blvd.
Monday: Sneaker’s Bar, 1380 Disc Drive.
Tuesday: Baskin Robbins, 1145 North McCarran Blvd.
Tuesday: Paul’s Market, 1550 Vance Way.
Tuesday: Prism Clothing, 2161 Pyramid Way.
Wednesday: Baskin Robbins, 1145 North McCarran Blvd.
“To date there has been a total of seven commercial burglaries where the suspect(s) have damaged the exterior glass then made entry into the buildings,” said Commander Rocky Triplett of the Detective Division of the Sparks Police Department. “In some cases, the glass appears to have been damaged by some type of round projectile before being broken to allow entry.”
Culbertson said the burglars used a BB gun to try to punch through the windows at Baskin Robbins but eventually gave up and threw a bench at the plate glass to gain entry. The video tapes the family uses for surveillance caught two suspects breaking into the store, one on the lookout and one inside taking the cash.
The first night, the cash drawer was emptied of a couple hundred dollars, Culbertson said. The second night, the suspects came back, looking for the family’s safe, which they found.
“They got my drop safe,” she said.
“They just come in and tear your place apart,” Culbertson said. “They actually used a bench outside. the glass was everywhere. Luckily my son was here. He helped clean up. We made sure we got it cleaned up really good.”
The family stayed up until 5 a.m. the next morning, as the business mostly caters to young children, to ensure the floor was clear of all glass, Culbertson said.
“It’s really a shame that people do that,” she said. “It was terrible.”
Culbertson’s advice for other business owners is to empty their cash registers and keep the empty drawers open in plain sight, so burglars aren’t tempted to enter the store.
Anyone with information should call the detectives division of the Sparks Police Department at 775-353-2225 or Secret Witness at 322-4900.