Specialty stores in St. John's have been hit by a rash of break-ins. The target? Expensive parkas

Don Clarke, director of sales and marketing for the Outfitters, says a recent rash of break-ins is unusual. Thieves are targeting expensive winter parkas.  (Darryl Murphy/CBC - image credit)
Don Clarke, director of sales and marketing for the Outfitters, says a recent rash of break-ins is unusual. Thieves are targeting expensive winter parkas. (Darryl Murphy/CBC - image credit)
Darryl Murphy/CBC
Darryl Murphy/CBC

A rash of break-ins at specialty stores in the St. John's area have owners feeling like they're being targeted.

The Outfitters, located on Water Street in downtown area, recently had its second break-in in the last few weeks, along with an unsuccessful attempt, while Alpine Country Lodge in Churchill Square has suffered six since December.

"It's a little unsettling. It throws off your operation. You're cleaning up broken glass, spending time with the police and getting your security footage," Don Clarke, the Outfitters' director of sales and marketing, said Thursday.

"Then you're doing inventory, finding out exactly what is missing. On top of that, we work hard to take care of our customers."

High-end winter parkas were snatched, some with a price tag of more than $1,000.

Clarke said the thieves knew what they were doing.

Darryl Murphy/CBC
Darryl Murphy/CBC

"They knew what they were going for. They were in and out within about one minute, which is a little alarming," he said.

"We've mixed things up so it's not so easy to figure that out now."

Not far from downtown, in Churchill Square, Brad Squires, co-owner of Alpine Country Lodge, has been struggling with the same problem for over a month.

The store has been in business for almost 30 years but until December hadn't been broken into for 21 years.

The target? Expensive Canada Goose winter jackets.

"They're quite pricey and they know it. They're worth a lot of money on the street, I guess. They can sell them for a decent dollar," Squires said,

"At night, I can't sleep very well because I'm wondering, 'Is the phone going to ring, 3 a.m.? Am I going to have to come in here again and deal with this?'"

Darryl Murphy/CBC
Darryl Murphy/CBC

Squires said some of the break-ins happened on back-to-back nights, including Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

In another incident, a man walked into the store, said he was going to take Canada Goose jackets and did exactly that.

Squires said the man grabbed six but employees managed to wrestle away five before the man fled. They did get the man's licence plate number.

"It's cost me a lot of money over the last month. Our business has lost tens of thousands of dollars," he said. "I've had to totally reinforce these windows, substantially."

He said no arrests have been made yet.

The Outfitters' Clarke said he has had better luck in what he calls an unusual situation over recent months.

"We know our product, we know unlikely customers and we know when something's missing, so we're pretty prompt to file a police report," he said.

"Almost every single time we get a notice that they're appearing in court and product has been recovered."

High-end break-ins aren't limited to expensive outerwear, either. In nearby Mount Pearl, Reid Music on Topsail Road recently shared images on Facebook of a break-in that occurred during last weekend's snowstorm.

Four bass guitars were stolen from the shop by someone who smashed the store's front window.

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