Crime wave has business owners on high alert
WEST ASHLEY, SC (WCSC) - A crime wave in West Ashley has business owners on high alert. Charleston County sheriff's deputies are still searching for the vandals who smashed in windows at half a dozen stores in one night.
"The first guy came, and he threw a big rock," Annette Mulero said.
Mulero described what she saw on her store's surveillance video the night the front door was smashed in at Charleston Cleaners.
"The second guy came in and kicked it," Mulero said. "The third guy came and also kicked it, and that's when it shattered."
This break-in happened at 3 a.m. on Nov. 21 and was just the beginning of several crimes in area, not just that night, but throughout the next week.
Mulero said the surveillance tape shows three people, one of whom was wearing a Phantom of the Opera mask, breaking into the store on Highway 17 and Main Road.
Two doors down, the glass was shattered at Diamond Nails as well.
But these weren't the only stores hit that night.
"When we got here, the glass was broken to the front of the office and the office had been ransacked," Steve Leasure, owner of Carpet Baggers, said.
The vandals also broke into Carpet Baggers on Savannah Highway and Marginal Road, but they didn't stop there either.
"We were sitting here talking to police, and cops were coming by as more businesses along 17 were being broken into," Leasure said.
Deputies said after the suspects left Carpet Baggers, they smashed the window at the Subway on Savannah Highway.
In addition to those businesses, authorities said the vandals also smashed in doors or windows at Farmhouse Antiques on Savannah Highway and Up in Smoke on Ashley River Road.
The break-ins have many business owners, and customers, rattled.
"People are upset," Mulero said. "They're shocked, upset, because nothing like this has happened before."
Deputies continue to investigate the break-ins. They say in most cases, the business owners didn't find anything missing from their stores.
Deputies won't confirm if these break-ins are related to other recent crimes near this area.
On Monday, Citizens Bank in Hollywood was robbed. Last Friday, there was a robbery at the Family Dollar on River Road. Last Wednesday, robbers hit the Dollar General on Ashley River Road.
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