Thieves target small business already struggling during COVID-19 closures


FRESNO, California (KGPE) – A small Fresno business already trying to stay afloat after being forced to close during the coronavirus pandemic has now been hit by a break-in.

Someone forced entry at Re-Loved Vintage in northwest Fresno sometime Wednesday night.

The owners, Veronica Mechem and Amber Gorman, said it’s happened before but this time hurts more because they don’t have the income to balance it out.

“We’re already struggling because we’re not making any sales right now,” Gorman said Thursday.

The vintage home decor business had to close more than two weeks ago, along with others deemed “non-essential.”

“We were just going to tread water for a while and then this hit and it’s just kind of numbing,” Mechem said.

The pair spent hours cleaning up after someone broke the window and burglarized the store.

“It’s very frustrating you know? It doesn’t feel good and it’s hard because everybody’s frightened right now with everything that’s going on as it. So it’s difficult,” Gorman said.

Fresno Police Sgt. Jeff La Blue said there was concern that crimes would spike during the pandemic.

“We’ve been getting a lot of requests on crime numbers over the last three weeks since the emergency order went out,” he said.

La Blue said overall, crime is down 2%. The department has also issued about 60% fewer citations. He said this is partly because motor officers have been redeployed to patrol businesses.

Property crimes are up slightly – but so is the number of officers on the streets. “To just show a security presence to help calm the public,” La Blue said.

Mechem and Gorman don’t have an estimate on the damages or stolen goods yet. But said right now, when nothings coming in, any loss hurts businesses like theirs much more.

“It’s been very challenging and especially now. This is just going to cost us more money to take care of the mess that’s been made,” Gorman said.

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