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Uptown Plaza concerned after rash of attempted burglaries - abc27 WHTM

Uptown Plaza concerned after rash of attempted burglaries

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) -

Following a string of attempted break-ins, store owners in Harrisburg's Uptown Plaza say they are fed up, frustrated, and taking action to fight back.

Surveillance video obtained by abc27 shows a suspect quickly flash a gun, demand money from a Boost Mobile store clerk. The video shows the clerk put his hands up and hand over cash from the register and a cell phone to the suspect.

The reported crime happened in early November, and the video led police to make a quick arrest of the suspect. Besides this armed robbery, store owners tell abc27 there has been a recent rash of attempted break-ins and burglaries.

Bill Heilig owns Metro PCS, a cell phone and service provider; he showed abc27 the back door of his business.

"This door is destroyed so badly that I literally had to block it completely off," said Heilig.

The steel door had a gaping hole where Heilig said the suspect(s) tried to break into his store recently. Heilig also installed several locks on the door after another burglary attempt.

"It is very frustrating," said Heilig.

He said the bill for repairs was around $2,000. But the merchandise criminals are after are worthless, according to Heilig.

"[The cell phones] will be useless after they leave the store," he said. "We can block them. They're no good to the person who took 'em."

Heilig explained the phones can also be tracked if a person gets a hold of a "hot" item and try to trade that phone for cash at a kiosk.

Police confirmed there have been break-in attempts to several stores to the Uptown Plaza that included Metro PCS, Boost Mobile and the Great Wall of China Restaurant. Police said they have received numerous "false alarms" or calls they could not find evidence of suspicious activity at other stores.

At this time, police said officers have questioned possible suspects, but have no further information regarding descriptions.

One store owner, who asked not to be identified, said police security is tight during the day, but they had their locks tested overnight. Heilig agreed; his security concerns are during after business hours, and shoppers should not be concerned for their safety.

Heilig said police do patrol the plaza during the day and evening hours, but felt more could be done overnight.

"No, I don't feel there is proper patrols in this area, no," he said.

Other stores have taken extra security measures such as installing cage doors, cameras, and special locks according to Heilig. Another store owner said they have resorted to other means of personal security.

Heilig said he believes his store can be successful in the Uptown Plaza, one reason why he has invested money into protecting his business. However, he fears if the crime continues to happen, he'll be forced to close.

"Eventually, we're going to start moving out," he said. "And, we're going to take our business elsewhere, that we feel safe and that we're going to feel more secure with our products."

abc27 spoke with a property manager who said they are working with Harrisburg Police to help tighten security overnight.

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