‘It’s a vicious cycle’: Ballard businesses lose thousands of dollars due to reoccurring break-ins

SEATTLE — A number of Ballard businesses are frustrated and concerned with a rising trend of break-ins, the owners told KIRO 7 News.

KIRO 7 News spoke with Spas Spasov, the owner of Sopranos Pizza & Pasta in Ballard, located on 24th Avenue Northwest, on Friday.

He said a suspect broke into his business Friday morning around 5:30 a.m. and stole hundreds of dollars and an iPad that he uses to receive orders from DoorDash. Now without it, he said he will lose around $600 a day as he waits for a new device from the company.

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He said the break-in is the second incident in the past three months.

Last January, he said a suspect broke into his business, destroyed the backroom and stole valuable items from his safe, computers, and the recording device for his security footage.

He has lost more than $12,000 in both break-ins, including the cost to repair the damage, he said.

“I feel disappointed. I don’t have the power to fight with these guys,” Spasov said. “I have to survive. I have to survive.”

In Friday’s break-in, security video captured the moment when the suspect threw a large rock at the front door, which left shattered pieces of glass on the ground.

The suspect even looked at the security camera outside and continued to break the door.

The suspect went inside the restaurant and stole $300 from the registers, the owner explained the video.

Spasov said he has considered installing a thicker door for the front entrance, but he’s worried it would cause more harm.

“If I make something very strong metal door, I’m scared because they probably come and break these big windows. It’s around $5,000,” he added.

While the camera captured the suspect, Spasov said it does not solve the issue.

“I think I have to stop security alarm and everything because they don’t protect me. It’s not protecting me. Nobody protect me,” he added. “Not just me, I heard around the whole neighborhood, it’s the same.”

KIRO 7 News also spoke with Andy Wagembrenner, the owner of The Mailbox Ballard, down the street.

He said the issue has been getting worse in the neighborhood over the last couple of years.

“You feel abandoned like you kind of feel like it’s on you to keep this place safe,” he said.

“The store has been here since 1996. No break-ins at all. No history of anything until January of 2022. And now we’ve had four break-ins in that two-year span, plus two more attempted break-ins,” he added.

Last December, Wagembrenner said two people wearing masks broke into his store, which left him with a $6,000 bill.

“Every night you go to sleep, you set the phone next to your bed because you don’t know if you’re going to get a call from the alarm company in the middle of the night and you’re going to have to come down here and sweep up broken glass and trying to figure out what happened,” he told KIRO 7 News.

Wagembrenner and Spasov said they report every break-in to police, but the problem keeps reoccurring.

“The police respond most of the time, in terms of coming out and taking a report, but beyond that, there’s not much help that’s available. We actually had a check stolen from the office and they (suspect) made out that check to themselves, and we provided that information to the police, but they have not done anything with it,” said Wagembrenner.

“I think it’s not the police fault. They’re so short with staffing and everything,” said Spasov.

We also saw a man cleaning up the broken pieces of glass in front of Sopranos Pizza & Pasta Friday.

Rudy Pantoja, a neighborhood resident, said Spasov is a friend of his and he helped Spasov plant trees in front of his restaurant in the past.

“We planted all these trees along here many years ago to make it a nice walking friendly neighborhood. Got a hold of Spas, and I said Spas, ‘do you need some help?’ So, I came over and helped him clean up,” Pantoja said.

Pantoja said the issue does not only affect business owners, but it also impacts residents who call the area home.

“It’s a vicious cycle. So, the most important thing is that we communicate with each other, and sometimes the police can’t be there, but some of us can, and do what we can to secure the property and let the cops handle it after that,” he said. “We’re sick of it. I swear to God. It’s unacceptable. The courts need to do their parts. Cops care, but the courts need to do their part, and these individuals know they can get away with it without any consequence.”

KIRO 7 News reached out to the Seattle Police Department to get more details. A spokesperson said they are working to get more details on the case for us.

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