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Thanksgiving thief strikes shops

It was indeed a “Black Friday” for several businesses in Hillsboro and Forest Grove over the weekend.

Early Friday morning, two downtown businesses in Hillsboro were burglarized.

“One was at the 2nd Hand Wireless store located at 379 E. Main St. and the other at 345 E. Main St. at Hillsboro Hobby Shop,” said Lt. Mike Rouches, spokesman for the Hillsboro Police Department. “In both cases, the suspect smashed the front door glass, went in and looked for cash.”

Rouches said $60 was taken from the hobby shop, but no cash was taken from the wireless store.

Three more businesses in Forest Grove suffered the same fate. All five break-ins appeared to be the work of the same thief.

“The suspect is described as a male, white, unknown age; wearing a black hoodie and a black ski mask,” Rouches said. “So far, we have no leads on the investigation, but the detective unit is working the cases.”

Greg Carlson, the owner of the Hillsboro Hobby Shop, said his alarm company called him at 4:50 a.m.

“It was lots of fun coming down at 5 in the morning Friday and fixing the doors,” he said. “There was broken glass 20 feet into the store — glass everywhere and a real mess.”

Carlson had the crime on video. His store alarm system cameras showed a man standing at the front door with a ski mask on. He waited a moment, then smashed the front door, entered the store and found his way to the cash register.

“There wasn’t much money left in the store,” Carlson said. “We just had the morning till set up.”

The timing of the break-in was especially problematic for Carlson.

“I was having my first sale I’d ever had on Black Friday, so it was a scramble just to get it back open in the morning,” he explained.

Carlson said he bought the business in 2005, and although he had his front door smashed once before and had some bullet holes in his windows another time, this was the first break-in and burglary he’d experienced.

Carlson speculated the man who entered the store had an accomplice waiting nearby in a car.

Just a few doors down from the Hillsboro Hobby Store, Brooks Doherty, owner of 2nd Hand Wireless, a used cell phone store, said the break-in at his store was also a new experience for him.

Doherty said the thief didn’t take any phones; he was just looking for cash.

“But he didn’t get any money, because all the money is locked away,” he added.

Doherty was especially angry about the damage to his door.

“It’ll cost me as much as $800 to fix the door,” he said. “The door was more expensive than anything in the entire store. There is not a single phone or computer worth as much as that door.”

In the wake of the crime, Doherty said he plans to invest in a more expensive alarm system.

“Hopefully, it’ll be the last time something like this happens,” he said, adding that the best deterrent might be to get another dog for his store. Doherty pointed out that for most of the time 2nd Hand Wireless has been open, he has kept a sentry dog on the premises.

“For the first three years, we had a pit bull living here full-time,” Doherty said. “We adopted him out, and now, about two months later, we had the break-in. If this had happened a few months ago, they would have found a guy with one leg or a dead guy here.”

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