Burglary spree reported on Pacific Avenue in Wildwood

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WILDWOOD—Police confirmed Thursday that there were a string of burglaries at Pacific Avenue businesses late New Year’s Eve and into the early morning hours of Jan. 1.

The Deck Restaurant, Mum’s the Word Florist, and Michele’s Island Cuts were all broken into that night, Det. Sgt. Ken Gallagher said Thursday, Jan. 9. So far, police have not made any arrests.

“It’s a major problem,” Gallagher said, and added that there have been multiple robberies and burglaries in the city recently.

Many of them, Gallagher said, appear to be drug-related. In the case of the New Year’s robberies, the burglar only took the small amounts of cash found in the businesses, he said, leaving behind valuables and liquor.

The burglaries appear to be committed by the same individual or group, as each one was a forced entry and the culprit only took cash. He said there were no fingerprints at the scenes, which means the burglar was wearing gloves. 

“This isn’t their first rodeo,” Gallagher said. 

Bobby Dee, a manager at The Deck, said that this was the first time the restaurant had been targeted. That night, there was a New Year’s Eve party at the bar, and it was burglarized after the celebration had wrapped up.

“The place was pretty much trashed,” he said. “You could tell they were looking for cash.”

He said that the culprit had broken down the office door and tried to break into the bar’s ATM. They didn’t make off with any cash, and Dee said that no other valuables in the bar were taken.

At Mum’s the Word, one of the owners said that this is the second time her place has been hit. The first time, the burglars came in through the back door, which has since been replaced with a steel one. This time, the culprits broke open the front door to get in.

“It seemed like it was a crime spree,” Mary, who asked that her last name not be disclosed, said of the string of burglaries.

In both incidents, she said, the burglars rummaged around for cash, but didn’t do much damage. She said in both incidents, there wasn’t a lot of cash on hand to be stolen.

“There is nothing in here of any real value, it’s not like we’re a jewelry store,” she said. “They never really take anything, they just look to see if there’s money.”

She said that now, the store has purchased a security system and repaired the front door.

“It’s just depressing,” she said.

Gallagher said that the police department is trying to make more drug raids and stop distribution points in the city, which should help stop many of the break-ins. That’s been their approach since last year, and he said that the number of burglaries is down from 2012.

According to crime data with the state police, Wildwood reported 141 burglaries in 2013, a decrease of 36 percent in comparison to 2012, when there were 221 reported.

But, robberies have gone up 30 percent in that time, according to that data. In 2012, there were 20 robberies in the city, and there were 26 reported in 2013. Fifteen of those were strong-arm robberies in 2013, three involved a firearm, five were with a knife or other cutting instrument, and three were with another device considered to be dangerous.

Gallagher said most of the strong-arm robberies are over drug money, so many don’t get reported to police. But, he doesn’t think the problem is only seen in Wildwood. The rise of heroin addiction is Cape May County-wide, and Gallagher thinks that’s adding to the problem. 

“Most of the towns are experiencing the same problem, he said. “It’s not just Wildwood, I think.” 

Email Christie Rotondo at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or comment on this story below. 

 


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