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By Da Lin
December 18, 2022 / 11:44 PM / CBS San Francisco
CONCORD — A Grinch tried to ruin Christmas for two Concord businesses just a week from the big holiday.
Surveillance footage showed a burglar breaking into a kids’ dance studio and an aquatic pet store over the weekend, stealing money, electronics and even Christmas presents.
It happened Saturday at around 5:30 a.m. The thief can be seen in the video covered from head to toe in black clothing and a black mask.
He broke a glass window and entered Cali Kid Corals, which sells exotic fish and coral.
“Pretty much what he took was a couple of aquarium lights and then the cash … other than that, it was him making a mess of things,” said Ben Shapiro, owner of Cali Kid Corals.
Surveillance footage shows the thief rifling through the cabinets and desk for about 20 to 30 minutes. Shapiro said the thief took no more than $800 in cash.
The thief then went to the neighboring business, a dance studio, and broke a glass door to gain entrance.
“I walked into a complete disarray of everything. Every supply, every drawer, door, cabinet was opened. Everything was on the floor,” said Sarah Brinkman, owner and director of Clayton Valley Dance Academy.
Brinkman said the burglar ransacked the supply room, stole a laptop, several tablets, some power tools, a suitcase of performance supplies and Christmas gifts meant for students and staff.
“Initially, (I’m) just sad and scared because this is a place for children and I can’t imagine why anyone would want to come into a dance studio. There’s really nothing of value here,” Brinkman said.
Brinkman said it was their first break-in. They’ve been at the Clayton Valley Shopping Center on Ygnacio Valley Road for about 15 years. The two neighboring businesses are located in the back of the shopping center, away from the high-traffic area.
“There’s just this lack of kindness — general kindness — especially to take advantage of a place that’s for children,” Brinkman said.
She said the dance studio has 350 students. The youngest is 2 1/2 years old.
“This is a second home to a large number of my students. They spend hours here, sometimes, more hours than they do at home after school,” Brinkman said.
As for Shapiro, he said he had just finished his insurance claim from a July burglary. This was the second break-in in six months. They’ve only been at that location for two years.
“It’s definitely a little demoralizing because it’s happening frequently. Financially, it can be a strain and it is going to be a strain on us as a business,” Shapiro said.
Concord police said burglary is up. In all of last year, police responded to 418 burglaries. This year, they responded to 455 burglaries from Jan. 1 to Dec. 7.
Brinkman said her students did not let the burglary dampen their spirit. They cleaned up the mess and performed their year-end dance recital for parents several hours after the break-in.
“We’re just going to rally together and support each other and move forward,” Brinkman said.
Concord police said they have not arrested anyone in the case and are trying to identify a suspect.
Da Lin is an award-winning journalist at KPIX 5 News. He joined KPIX 5 in 2012, but has been reporting the news in the Bay Area since 2007. Da grew up in Oakland, and before his return to the Bay Area, he spent five years covering the news at three other television stations in Texas, Southern and Central California. He also spent five years reporting at KRON 4.
First published on December 18, 2022 / 11:44 PM
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©2022 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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