Butter tart break-ins 'not just an isolated incident,' says business owner

A broken window at La Vern's Market in Windsor. The business has had two recent break-ins where the thief only took butter tarts. (Mike Evans/CBC - image credit)
A broken window at La Vern's Market in Windsor. The business has had two recent break-ins where the thief only took butter tarts. (Mike Evans/CBC - image credit)

A series of break-ins from a thief dubbed the butter tart bandit are part of a larger pattern downtown, says a business owner who wants to see action.

"We've had more than these two break ins," said Vern Myslichuk, the owner of La Vern's Market. "This is now number six... there's people up the street that are dealing with issues, so it's not just an isolated incident."

LISTEN: Vern Myslichuk joins Windsor Morning

The most recent break-ins at La Vern's, at the corner of Pelissier Street and University Avenue, occurred in the past three weeks. Both times, the thief took only butter tarts, sparking a bit of a sensation online.

Myslichuk said he tried to turn a negative incident into a positive by offering up free butter tarts following the theft.

"Everybody was a little upset about the whole break in and we thought, well let's share the butter tarts. If people [are] willing to go to jail for them, let's give them up for free," he said.

The second incident, he said, was both ironic and upsetting.

Windsor police say the same 47-year-old Leamington man has been arrested in both incidents.

More broken windows

Michael Evans/CBC
Michael Evans/CBC

Jim Arbour, owner of Lefty's on the O, said his business has been hit multiple times.

One night about a month ago, Arbour said, customers were sitting by the window when suddenly there was "a large bang and shards of glass kind of flew everywhere."

"So we went outside and we found one of these lug nuts outside."

He said about four hours later it happened again.

Two weeks after that incident, he said his window was hit again, two days in a row.

"It seems to be they're hitting the small business places," he said, adding it costs about $800-$1,000 to replace the glass every time.

Michael Evans/CBC
Michael Evans/CBC

Ljubica Cajan, at Tunnel Discount Convenience, said the glass there was broken just before New Year's Day while she was in the store.

She said it's frustrating because she can fix the window but the culprit could come back and break it again.

She also wondered why small businesses in the area seemed to be getting targetted.

More business could curb crime, owner says

Myslichuk, who owns another nearby business he said was also recently vandalized, said that neighbourhood patrols or more security could help address the issues downtown business owners are facing.

He would also like to see the city of Windsor take steps to encourage more businesses to set up shop downtown, such as reducing taxes.

"I personally believe, because I've been in business a long time, that if you encourage businesses to come downtown, the crime goes away," he said.

Just down the street from La Vern's at Phog Lounge, there was a window broken during the fall.

Owner Tom Lucier said at the time that more supports for mental health and addictions are needed in the area.

"The downtown needs special care and it needs medical professionals. No one doesn't think this. Everyone knows it's an issue," Lucier said.