Downtown businesses recovering from month of vandalism

Monday, April 21, 2014 | 8:06 p.m. CDT; updated 9:43 p.m. CDT, Monday, April 21, 2014

COLUMBIA — Broadway Brewery and Coffee Zone were vandalized early Sunday morning, marking the seventh time in a month a downtown business has been defaced, Columbia police Sergeant Joe Bernhard said.

Sometime between 2-6:52 a.m., a man broke one  of Broadway Brewery's windows and entered the restaurant, according to a Columbia Police Department news release. Surveillance video showed a shirtless, muscular man standing in the kitchen holding what looks like a baseball bat. 

Around 1 a.m. Sunday, Osama Yanis, the owner of Coffee Zone, received a call from one of his employees telling him the cafe had been vandalized. Yanis arrived at his shop about 20 minutes later to find a hole in his front window and a rock near the back wall, about 50 feet from the window.

"It made a perfect hole in the glass," he said.

Columbia police have a downtown security camera near Coffee Zone, Bernhard said, but it wasn't pointing in the right direction.

The police department can monitor the downtown security cameras in real-time, he said, but the front desk officer is often busy with other things.

"We're doing what we can to investigate with the resources available," Bernhard said. Detectives will review security footage from nearby businesses.

This is the second time in two weeks Coffee Zone has been vandalized. On April 10, two front windows were shattered and some of the store's signs were damaged, Yanis said. He thinks it will cost between $2,500 and $3,000 to repair everything.

"We're small business guys, we can't afford $2,500 a week," he said. He is offering a $1,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest.

Lakota Coffee Co., Iron Tiger Tattoo and Gunther's Games were vandalized earlier in April, according to previous Missourian reporting. Four vehicles parked downtown have been vandalized in the same period. 

Lakota was vandalized early Friday morning. Shop windows were broken and red paint was splattered across the awning.

The coffee shop's windows have been mostly repaired, general manager Andrew DuCharme said, but he still needs to replace 630 pounds of green coffee beans ruined by broken glass and order a replacement awning, which could take four to 10 weeks to arrive. 

Lakota has security cameras, but DuCharme said he couldn't make out any of the vandal's features. He plans to triple the number of cameras inside and around the store.

Columbia police have not found any pattern in the recent vandalism incidents, Bernhard said. "We can't say they're related or not."

At least two officers patrol downtown at night Wednesday through Saturday, he said. The area is covered by routine patrols the rest of the week.

Some downtown businesses are more concerned than others about the rash of vandalism.

Yanis worries it's bad for businesses. If people know a shop has been vandalized, he said, they may worry about their safety.

Justin Riley, manager of Dryer's Shoe Store at 7 N. Ninth St., next to Coffee Zone, said he is a little concerned about the vandalism, but he doesn't plan to beef up his store's security anytime soon. He doesn't think the incidents will harm downtown businesses, either.

"It's all happening in the wee hours of the morning when most businesses are closed," Riley said. "I haven't heard any concerns from customers."

Lisa Klenke, co-owner of Calhoun's on 911 E. Broadway, has worked in the area for about 20 years. In that time, the only vandalism of her store was an 8-inch square of graffiti several years ago, she said.

"It is fairly isolated, we've just had this little bad batch all of a sudden," she said.

She said vandalism is not on her list of "top 10 things to worry about."

Police encourage anyone with information about the vandals' identity to contact the department or Crime Stoppers at 573-875-TIPS.

Supervising editor is Adam Aton.

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