By Adam Smith
The North Jefferson News
The Gardendale Police Department is investigating the burglaries of three businesses this month.
The most recent incident happened Wednesday at midnight when a burglar broke the lock on a door at Jeff Dennis Jewelers at 841 Odum Road and entered the store.
Lt. Chuck Denham said the police department did not have a description of a suspect because the person’s face was not visible on surveillance video.
Two other business burglaries occurred on Jan. 19 at Estes Tire at 107 Tarrant Road and on Jan. 25 at the Texaco Xpress Lube at 328 Fieldstown Road.
Denham said it was too early to speculate if the burglaries are related.
Wednesday’s burglary happened in a heavily-lit shopping center, though there are reportedly no witnesses. The suspect reportedly broke the lock on the front door of the business and entered. Cameras in the store captured images of the crime as it happened.
On Thursday, Jeff Dennis said he was still taking inventory to find out exactly what was taken from his jewelry store, which has operated in Gardendale for four years.
“Luckily, we had 90 to 95 percent of the merchandise in the safe and they did not get into the safe,” he said. “No customers’ merchandise was in any danger.”
Dennis said the suspect smashed glass on display cases and caused what he described as unnecessary damage. Items taken included wedding bands and watches. He said while his store and the merchandise are insured, the deductible will cost him thousands out of pocket.
“It’s just mainly aggravating and frustrating and it makes you sad for individuals who stoop this low,” he said. “I’m just a hard-working man and if this guy had come in needing food or money, I would have given him some.”
An employee at the Texaco station on Fieldstown Road said a burglar entered through the back door of that business and stole a safe. He said the crime happened shortly after 7 p.m.
Ric Chandler of Estes Tire said he received a call from an alarm company on the morning of Monday, Jan. 19 at about 1:30 a.m. informing him that his business may have been broken in to. The burglar or burglars stole the cash drawer out of the business.
“They busted out the front door with a rock and came on in,” he said. “It made me sick. I’d rather give them the money out of the cash drawer than pay for the door.”
In the 20 years he’s worked for the business, he can remember only one other time that the store had been victim of a burglary. The loot in that burglary was four radial tires.
Chandler said he felt like the economy is to blame for the burglary of his business and others and he fears things will get worse before they get better.
“I knew it was coming, I just didn’t think it would come to me,” he said. “You don’t see it in our area, but it happens in Birmingham every day.”
By Adam Smith