Two new businesses, Foodologie in Belmont Shore and Lotus Tea Lounge in Carson Park, were burglarized early Monday morning, according to the owners.
Foodologie had its grand opening in mid-August and more recently, Lotus Tea Lounge had its grand opening on Oct. 7, just two days before they were both broken into.
It was unclear whether the two break-ins were related; the Long Beach Police Department confirmed responding to both incidents that morning.
Foodologie owner Maria Leyesa said she happened to wake up around 2 a.m. Monday morning, just before the shop’s alarm company called to report there had been a disturbance.
“They call and ask if you want someone dispatched, so if it’s not a real situation, then you get charged for it being a false alarm,” Leyesa said. She checked her security cameras in the shop, which had been shifted slightly due to cleaning earlier that day, but nothing looked amiss and decided against having someone dispatched.
A few hours later, her husband received a call from the shop’s neighbor, the owner of @Sushi, who informed them the front of the shop’s door had been shattered.
The shop’s register, a hidden drawer, was taken.
“It just makes me think this could have been a customer or someone who had been in here before because it’s not super visible,” Leyesa said.
The day before, on Sunday, her husband had installed new blinds on the windows of the shop’s storefront, partially to keep the store cool, but also for further privacy and security.
Between the repair of the smashed door and the replacement of the register, Leyesa anticipates the incident will set her back roughly $1,500. She hopes whoever took the register will dump it somewhere around the neighborhood after taking the cash.
Footage from neighboring businesses showed two people, in hoodies and masks, who briefly entered a neighbor’s front yard, before going inside the business just after 2 a.m., Leyesa said.
Over in Carson Park, about 40 minutes later, two people in hoodies and masks also broke down the door of Lotus Tea Lounge. Footage uploaded to the business’ Instagram page showed one of the people frantically grabbing things from behind the counter while the shop’s alarm screeched and the lights in the shop automatically flashed on.
The business said on Instagram that no one was hurt and that they planned to operate normally today.
A few weeks ago, Confidential Coffee, the owner of a Downtown coffee shop, reported something similar. It had been robbed for a second time in two months. Owner Denise Maldonado said it was the fifth break-in since she opened her shop five years ago. Like Maldonado, Leyesa employees an all-female staff.
“I’m just concerned about overall safety,” Leyesa said.
Multiple business owners have aired their frustrations over a rising number of break-ins and burglaries. They say there has been a lack of response from the city and police.
“How are people gonna want to continue to open up businesses or continue to stay open if it’s this big of an issue?” Leyesa said.
Despite working with the city to get their businesses open, owners say the city doesn’t provide help or resources for keeping their businesses safe during the permitting and plan check process.
The LBPD said business owners can contact their respective division’s patrol resource office who will come to their shop and offer crime-prevention tips.
Leyesa said the Belmont Shore Business Association has been helpful, as they have proposed ways to increase patrols. In September, after a stabbing in the area, the Belmont Shore Parking and Business Improvement Area Advisory Commission voted unanimously to increase private security in the area.
Echoing Maldonado’s experience, Leyesa said police seemed resigned to this being a common occurrence.
“I guess they see this all the time, so it’s not something of significance or shock to them,” Leyesa said. “They were very apologetic, but it was just like it’s just kind of one of those things.”
Lotus Tea Lounge is located at 3960 N. Studebaker Road, Suite #111. Foodologie is located at 195 Claremont Ave.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with information from the Long Beach Police Department.