BERLIN — The owner of Wonder Cards & Comics says someone tried to break into his Berlin business twice last week, and now he’s reminding people to lock their doors.
Roy Datema said someone tried to break into his store on Jan. 6 by trying unsuccessfully to push the door to force it open. And then on Jan. 8 he said someone took a sledgehammer to the door and again the door held.
Police are investigating the attempted break-ins and anyone with information about the incidents is asked to contact police in Berlin.
This isn’t the first time Datema has had to deal with something like this. He said someone broke into his business multiple times five years ago.
“When this happens, I go into what I call ‘siege mode.’ I have to remove product out of the front of the store that’s too easy to smash and grab and sell on the street. So we have to remove inventory out of the store for safety until things calm down again,” he said.
Datema said it had been a while since his business was burglarized. He said he had too much stuff in the store, which may have made it look like a good burglary target.
There was nothing incredibly valuable at the store, he said, because it had all been taken out five years ago after that rash of burglaries.
“It’s just the reality of being a merchant in a stand-alone store on the Barre-Montpelier Road. You gotta make yourself a small target around here. Otherwise the burglars target you,” he said.
Datema said 20 years ago he said he would go away for a week and would leave his door unlocked. Not so anymore.
“Now, I’m like ‘I gotta make sure my house is locked.’ If I leave home and don’t remember locking the door, I’ll go back and lock it,” he said.
Nationally, he said people misplace that unsafe feeling and look to things like the U.S. border with Mexico as the source.
“It’s not the Guatemalans coming over the border to central Vermont that’s making people less safe. We need to focus on the meatheads in this area who since the third grade their teacher said they were going to be problems. Some of these people we could see it already. They come from disadvantaged homes,” he said.
Datema said the state needs to focus on helping people get onto the right track instead of turning to a life of crime. He said he strongly supports Gov. Phil Scott’s idea to beef up the state’s vocational learning program. That would allow students who he said might not be destined for college find a path to a fulfilling career.
“Let’s help those kids so they can have a job and they can become productive members of society instead of becoming bums and meatheads breaking into stores and people’s houses,” he said.
But in the meantime Datema said people need to be reminded to lock their doors.