Downtown chocolate shop burglarized before busy Valentine’s Day season

A popular chocolate shop in Downtown Long Beach was burglarized early Monday, leaving the business owner sad and frustrated ahead of the busy Valentine’s Day season.

Long Beach Police Department said officers responded to reports of a burglary at Romeo Chocolates, a small business that specializes micro-batch chocolates at corner of Pine Avenue and Fifth Street, at 6:45 a.m. The investigation is ongoing.

The business on its Facebook page on Monday posted pictures of smashed front windows and an empty cash register along with a heartfelt message.

“Our shop was broken into before dawn and burglarized…and right before our busiest season, Valentine’s,” the business said. “To say that I’m saddened by this would be an understatement. Our small shop, like many of the small businesses in Long Beach and nationwide, didn’t receive a corporate bailout. Small business owners are scraping by with razor-thin margins. We are doing our best to stay in operations with this global crisis. We are genuinely exhausted.”

Owner Romeo Garcia could not be reached for comment Monday.

About three blocks south on Pine Avenue, George’s Greek Cafe and the former Federal Bar location also saw break-ins or smashed front windows early Monday, said Lalo Cervantes, an assistant manager at George’s.

Cervantes said nothing was stolen from the restaurant this time, but about two months ago, someone broke in and stole laptops. While crime typically increases in Downtown in the warmer months, he said things have been more intense lately.

“People will just come in a refuse to leave,” he said. “We have to deal with it on a daily basis.”

Crime statistics released from the Long Beach Police Department on Jan. 10 showed a slight decrease in overall property crime in 2021 compared to the previous year. Police have attributed the drop to a reduction in petty thefts, garage burglaries and commercial burglaries.

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Kelly Puente is an award-winning general assignment and special projects reporter at the Long Beach Post. She has worked as a journalist in Long Beach since 2006, covering everything from education and crime to courts and breaking news. Kelly previously worked at the Long Beach Press-Telegram and the Orange County Register before joining the Post in 2018. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public policy and administration at Cal State Long Beach. Reach her at [email protected].
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