Point Boro Dairy Queen Burglarized, Badly Damaged
O'Brien's Florist, two doors away, burglarized in mid-January
Dairy Queen on Bridge Avenue in Point Borough was burglarized and badly vandalized, causing thousands of dollars in damage, the store owners said on Thursday.
The ice cream store was burglarized early Tuesday morning and only two months ago, O'Brien's Florist and Landscaping, two doors down on the other side of River Avenue, was also burglarized, police said.
In both cases, entry was made by prying open a door or window in the middle of the night, but police said that is a common method to break in and they don't have a reason to believe the same perpetrators did both crimes. At Dairy Queen, a rear door was pried open and at O'Brien's a rear office window, hidden by a wall, oddly, was pried open and cash was stolen on Jan. 11, police and store employees said.
Police, who continue to investigate both incidents, are reminding business people and residents to take all precautions, including leaving lights on at night, locking doors and windows, watching out for their neighbors, being vigilant and reporting anything suspicious to the police.
Everything was locked up at Dairy Queen, but that didn't stop two perpetrators from prying open the store's thick, steel, rear door, ransacking the place and stealing cash in the dark, wee hours of Tuesday morning, said owners Alex and Debbie Viecelli said.
Debbie Viecelli said they know it was two perpetrators because they were filmed by the store's video surveillance system.
Police Captain Richard Larsen confirmed that the store was burglarized, a window and cash register damaged and cash stolen.
The Ocean County criminal investigations unit responded to the scene to assist in the investigation, Larsen said.
Alex Viecelli said the pathetic irony is that the pair snagged so little, but wreaked such havoc.
"They only got a couple hundred dollars, but they trashed the place, they caused thousands of dollars in damage," said Alex Viecelli. "There was ice cream and syrup all over the floor."
The burglars cut the electric so everything melted and spoiled, Alex Viecelli said.
"They smashed the electric meter box right off this wall," said Alex Viecelli, pointing to the spot on the outside wall where the box was destroyed. "It's amazing they weren't electrocuted."
They also cut every wire from the box that controls the telephone and cable television service, Viecelli noted. They ransacked the inside of the freezers and tore apart every cabinet and drawer, the owners said.
"It's $5,000 just to replace a door, a window and a cash register," said Debbie Viecelli, adding their business insurance will only cover a fraction of the damages and loss.
Then there is the cost of buying more products and equipment to replace what was spoiled and damaged, she said.
Then there is the cost of feeling invaded and victimized, and no amount of money is going to fix that.
"When I got here Wednesday morning and saw the door had been smashed open, I just couldn't believe it had happened here," he said, inside his store. "I always felt safe with the cameras here and being on the main road. This has showed weaknesses in our system. Now we have to do a lot more. It's sad you have to live like this."
The exterior surveillance cameras captured footage of two suspects outside the store around 4:30 a.m. and the clock inside the store stopped at 4:37 a.m, according to the Viecellis. The video was turned over to police, who are not commenting on that or any other evidence.
The police responded to the scene Wednesday morning after Alex Viecelli called at 8:43 a.m., said Captain Richard Larsen.
The Viecellis said they wished the police department had alerted the neighborhood when O'Brien's was burglarized, because they would have taken extra precautions.
Larsen said all businesses and residents should take extra precautions whether or not a crime has been committed in their neighborhood.
"This is not an oddity," he said. "We do have burglaries."
Larsen said that there have been 13 burglaries this year, but Dairy Queen and O'Brien's were the only two businesses among those. The others were all home and vehicle burglaries which, in some cases, led to arrests, he said.
However, regarding the police response by Detective Ed Miller and assisting officers after the crime was reported, the store owners are nothing but complimentary.
"Their investigation was very thorough, top notch," Alex Viecelli said.
First Sandy, Now This
While there is never a good time to be a victim of a crime, this is an especially bad time. The crawl space and garage of the Viecellis' Borough home was flooded in Sandy and now, like hundreds of other residents in the Borough and throughout many sections of the Jersey Shore, they have home repair costs and the difficult task of figuring out whether to elevate their home, by how much, when and how to pay for it.
Then there was the loss of business revenue in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. The store was closed for a while after the storm, then re-opened until December, when they would have closed anyway for the winter.
"We should have stayed closed, no one was here," said Alex Viecelli.
"I don't blame people for not wanting ice cream when they're worrying about being able to afford fixing up their homes," said Debbie Viecelli.
Anyone with information about the burglaries at the two businesses, to report anything suspicious to inquire about joining the local Community Watch group, can call police at (732) 892-0060.