Edmonton antique stores out thousands of dollars after multiple break-ins

·3 min read

Break-ins and thousands of dollars in loss were a severe blow on top of struggling business due to the pandemic for two Edmonton antique stores.

Both Curiosity Inc. in west Edmonton and Blue Jar Antique Mall on Stony Plain Road were both broken into over the past six months.

Curiosity's owner Alexander Archbold says their store was broken into three times and around $30,000 worth of items were stolen, including a couple of Gibson guitars, pocket watches and rare Roman coins and bills.

"I felt completely gutted," Archbold said. "You look at the damage to the building and you're the first thing you're thinking of is I can't believe people would do this. I can't believe this would happen again.

Scott Neufeld/ CBC
Scott Neufeld/ CBC

Archbold said the store was a lifelong dream.

"[I] aspired to be like Indiana Jones and go looking for cool and rare treasures and so this has really been a lifelong passion, putting this store together," he said.

The investment was huge and Archbold was determined to make it worthwhile. He had restored Curiosity Inc., a heritage building, and had talked to the city about becoming a tourist destination.

When the pandemic hit, Archbold had to shut his business down not only due to provincial restrictions, but for an extra month as he lost a family member to COVID-19.

"This has been a very challenging year overall, and I think there is only so much a person can reasonably take," he said.

He said he is looking at moving forward but he is worried the thefts are only going to get worse.

Blue Jar Antique Mall was broken into two consecutive nights last week. Owner Chris Bauer said she could not believe it when the alarms alerted her of a second break-in.

"That was very disheartening," she said.

Bauer said very specific things were taken like collectible money, coins, jewelry and watches. "Small things that they could get back out through the bars," she said.

After the break-ins, both stores fortified their buildings by putting bars on windows. However, Archbold said the bars did little good as the second time the thieves chose to smash the glass on the main door and the third time, smash the entire door jam itself.

"They basically ripped apart the structure of my door to get in, and that's regardless of the fact there is bars on the windows, bars on the door. I have a security system, I have cameras, they just simply don't care," he said.

Edmonton police did not respond to request for comment on Saturday but did confirm on Friday that one suspect had been arrested and charged on Thursday in relation to Monday's robbery at Curiosity Inc.

Blue Jar has not heard any updates on the police investigation.

Bauer said because both Curiosity and Blue Jar had similar items stolen she believes there might be a pattern.

"It makes me wonder if it wasn't a little more organized than it appeared," she said.