NE Salem restaurant closing after burglary cost owners thousands - KPTV - FOX 12

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NE Salem restaurant closing after burglary cost owners thousands of dollars

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Romana's Mexican Restaurant in NE Salem, now closed for good. (KPTV) Romana's Mexican Restaurant in NE Salem, now closed for good. (KPTV)
The shattered glass left at the drive-through window. (KPTV) The shattered glass left at the drive-through window. (KPTV)
The boarded-up drive-through window. (KPTV) The boarded-up drive-through window. (KPTV)
SALEM, OR (KPTV) -

A northeast Salem restaurant is shutting its doors for good after a burglary that cost the owners thousands of dollars.

The burglary happened at Romana’s Mexican Restaurant on the morning of November 19.

Dee Anna Ramirez told FOX 12 her husband and kids were on their way to church when they drove by and saw the broken glass from the drive-through window.

When they checked their security video, they found a man had thrown rocks through the window to crawl inside. He went for the cash register drawer, but appeared to be unable to open it. Instead, he picked up the safe from the back office and took it back out through the shattered drive-through window.

Inside the safe was roughly $3,500 dollars in lottery money required to be kept on hand to pay out winning tickets, along with a few hundred dollars in restaurant money.

On top of that, Ramirez said her family had to make an out-of-pocket lottery payment three days later of $2,700.

“The restaurant industry right now is slow, so we were already struggling as a restaurant to try and make ends meet. We had payroll due that week, the lottery deposit due every week, and you know, bills, so it’s pretty devastating,” Ramirez explained. “We just decided it was going to be a lot less of a loss for us to close than to continue and try to not get burglarized anymore and make ends meet.”

It’s the second burglary at the business since they opened in August of 2016. In January 2017, Ramirez said someone spent two hours trying to get in their door and ended up taking a few bottles of liquor.

Now, she believes this latest case is connected to a string of other commercial burglaries in the area.

As FOX 12 reported on Monday, someone stole the safe from the La Bonita Mexican Bakery just down the street from Ramirez’ restaurant. The week before, it was Physique Fitness and Casa Rojas in downtown Salem that were targeted.

“I’m 100 percent convinced it’s the same person that went to Physique Fitness and La Bonita, because the method of entry was similar, it makes me think that it is [the same person],” Ramirez said.

Salem police told FOX 12 they have seen a spike in cases in November and aren’t sure why. There are three people or groups they believe are responsible for a number of commercial burglaries, and some arrests have already been made. Others are expected to follow.

Ramirez officially closed her restaurant last Saturday, and will be out a significant investment to break their lease on the property. As she sells off what’s left she’s grateful her family has a construction company to fall back on, but she knows other families may not be so lucky.

“We’re small businesses,” she said. “And this kind of stuff really will put small businesses out of business.”

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