Thieves targeting businesses across DC region during COVID-19 pandemic

It has been a tough few weeks for many businesses in and around Washington, D.C. Some have been forced to close, some have laid-off workers, and others have become targets for thieves.

“It was a free-for-all for a couple hours in the night,” Dio Wine Bar owner Stacey Khourey-Diaz said early Tuesday evening, more than 12 hours after a thief appeared to pick up a rock and throw it through the Northeast D.C. business’ front door.

Somehow the rock didn’t trip the alarm, so Khourey-Diaz said thieves continued reaching through the broken glass throughout the night, stealing a total of about $2000 of wine.

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“It’s like a sucker punch,” she described. “It hurts, especially at a time like this. You know, every dollar counts.”

Similar break-ins have been happening a lot.

Montgomery County Police released video Tuesday of two masked men, who investigators said robbed a Silver Spring Dunkin Donuts in March.

Surveillance cameras also caught another business break-in in Southwest D.C. late last month.

Plus, employees of a Frederick restaurant were able to stop a would-be robber by hitting him with a barstool and then nailing him in bear spray.

Security expert Derrick Parks, the president and CEO of Metropolitan Protective Services, said he’s seen quite a few business break-ins lately too.

In an ideal world, he’d recommend that establishments hire private security guards or off-duty police officers, but given the cost, he said businesses may also consider adding camera systems, metal grates over their doors, a good alarm system, and at night, he thinks businesses should consider leaving a light on too.

“The longer the pandemic lasts, the lockdown lasts, the no jobs last, I think people are going to start to resort to a little bit more desperate measures,” he explained.

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As for Khoury-Diaz, she said she’d get her alarm system fixed immediately and is leaning on friends, family, and her regulars to help her get through this frustrating time.

“When stuff like this happens I think it’s important for us to look to our community and our people and make sure we feel the support that we need, because otherwise you’re just gonna go down a deep dark tunnel,” she said. “It’s hard to get out.”

Dio Wine Bar is still selling bottles on-line. Customers can either pick them up or get same-day delivery.