Downtown Oxford businesses targeted

Jan. 23, 2014 @ 09:16 PM

OXFORD — Police said three early morning break-ins Thursday clustered in a small retail area downtown is part of a growing theft spree that watchful residents may be able to help stop.

A 1:30 a.m. alarm Thursday summoned Oxford police and Granville County sheriff’s deputies to Milano’s Pizza, just two doors from the sheriff’s office.

Police responding to the scene discovered broken glass near the door where an attempt at making an entry into the business was evident.

According to a written statement by Oxford police, a canvassing operation commenced from the Milano’s location at 127 Williamsboro Street and two other break-ins were discovered.

Police believe the first break-in was at This and That Bookstore, 125 Main Street, then a second at Nan’s, 112 College Street, both within a block of Milano’s, near the intersection of Williamsboro and College streets.

The bookstore yielded $125 cash, and Nan’s only turned over some loose change totaling about $18, according to the statement.

Earlier this week, an air conditioner unit was taken from Oxford Baptist Church at 147 Main Street.

Recent thefts at residential and business locations in Oxford took place during daytime and nighttime hours targeting electronic game equipment, jewelry, firearms and cash.

The police statement also confirmed a number of copper thefts at various locations.

Although not much was missing from Nan’s, owner Robert Howells is counting up a larger loss on replacing a window. Due to minor damage earlier, it is the second time he’s replaced it in two months.

“It’s a $550 window,” Howells said. “Whoever broke it hurt themselves getting in. They left some blood on several clothing items, so they’re ruined. I’ve been here for 28 years, and this is the first time this has happened.”

Howells added he would not have expected a break-in during one of the coldest winter nights in years.

“You don’t expect things like that,” he said. “I was told about it at around 3 a.m. I’m not sure when they came in here. I believe I may have been the last one found.”

The first to discover the nighttime spree was the owner of Milano’s, notified through his alarm company’s service.

Katherine Cavanaugh, an assistant manager at Milano’s, said when the owner arrived at the restaurant, more than half a dozen officers with the police and sheriff’s departments were already there.

Cavanaugh praised the quick response to start an investigation of what several officers and employees were pondering was a pretty brazen act, to take place so near the sheriff’s office.

“That’s what we all were agreeing on,” Cavanaugh said. “We’re just two doors down from the sheriff’s office. We think that when they broke the glass the alarm went off, and that probably scared them away.”

Nothing was known to be missing from Milano’s as of Thursday afternoon.

The incident caught the attention of Mayor Jackie Sergent and Randy Hemann, Oxford’s town manager.

“I heard about those as I was heading out of town, but I haven’t received official reports yet,” Sergent said during a daytime visit to Warrenton.

The Oxford Police Department requests assistance from citizens, asking for anyone with further information to contact them at (919) 693-3161 or Granville County Crime Stoppers at (919) 693-3100.

 

Contact the writer at mfisher@hendersondispatch.com.