A downtown Merritt business hit by thieves for the third time in six months says it is considering closing down as a result.
At about 11:50 p.m. Thursday night, Davis Leathers on Quilchena Avenue was hit by at least one thief who broke a large window and stole a $15 necklace. The business's surveillance cameras recorded the suspect riding up to the front of the store on a mountain bike just before the window was smashed.
"A patron from the Coldwater bar witnessed a tall victim on a bike smash the window and ride away," says Merritt RCMP Const. Tracy Dunsmore. "We are waiting for a copy of the video surveillance, which will hopefully come in in the next few days."
The suspect was wearing a white hooded sweatshirt and a red floppy hat with a MountainFest logo on it.
"I let my dog out right away, and you could see the guy running," says Davis Leathers owner Grover Davis, who lives at the back of the store with his business partner and wife Debbie. They say the suspect was an older man.
"They got $15 worth of product and it was a $1,700-$1,800 window."
The store, established in Merritt about a year ago, was last hit in March when someone threw a boulder through the glass door. In October, thieves broke in through the front door and stole merchandise. In that incident, Merritt RCMP arrested a teenage boy, but he was released after his parents provided an alibi.
Thursday night's robbery is the latest in a series of reported attempted robberies and vandalism in the downtown core recently. Vandals threw a large rock through the window of the Merritt Public Library in March. Earlier this month, Vision Quest Optical and Gifts posted the names outside in public view of those suspected of breaking its windows on April 1.
"We were the only ones hit last night, but lots of people have been hit," says Debbie.
"Police say it's always the same ones doing it, but what do we do about it? We're in such a pickle."
The Davises say they are considering closing their business, which they had hoped to run through to their retirement in a few years. "We're just at the point to shut the doors down," says Grover.
"It's making it tough to stay in business when you're coughing up cash every week."
Because of the dynamics of the storefront of Davis Leathers, a security company has quoted the Davises a price of $10,000 to install shutters, which are installed on some of the other downtown businesses. But the Davises say they are likely to install bars instead. After the first robbery, they installed surveillance cameras.