Burglar hits Houston restaurants

September 29, 2009 8:08:33 AM PDT
One local restaurant owner is talking about what a burglar is doing to her business, and it's happened more than half a dozen times in the past few weeks. The burglar is going after liquor and the targets are restaurants in Midtown. The crook is bold, sometimes breaking into businesses in the middle of the day. He also knows what he wants and on that list are $600 bottles of tequila.

It wasn't bang-up business that cleared the shelves at Julia's Bistro this weekend.

"He left me three bottles up there," said owner Carmen Vasquez.

Rather, a slick burglar with good taste.

"Apparently, he doesn't like 12 year, he likes 15 and higher," said Vasquez.

She is the latest victim of a thief who's been hitting Midtown bars and restaurants since May. For each burglary the mode of operation is the same, he strikes when the places are closed, breaks in, disrupting as little as possible.

"He just pushes it open and has a way of snapping it back in place," said Vasquez.

And heads right for the bar.

"He wiped us clean," said Vasquez.

Bypassing the cheaper, well liquors for the ones that cost a whole lot more.

"Thousands, thousands. At the low end, five thousand," said Vasquez.

Houston police tell us both Post Oak Grill on Milam and Reef on Travis have been targeted twice each. The Mink Bar has been hit, too.

But none as often as Tafia. Four times according to its neighbors. Will Valerie manages the Breakfast Klub next door. He caught the guy in the act with a trash can full of liquor.

"I grabbed the trash can. I grabbed him. He slipped out of my arms and he started running," said Valerie.

They haven't found him yet, but Valerie now walks the block looking. It's been a slow summer. Few restaurants can absorb the loss easily.

"It's scary. It's to the point where he has to be stopped," said Valerie.

The victims are certain he must be selling the liquor illegally to another establishment. All of it is tagged by the Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission. Carmen believes whoever is buying it is just as guilty.

"If he didn't have a demand, it wouldn't be happening again and again and again," said Vasquez.

She plans to install cameras and upgrade her security system. The Houston Police Department has increased patrols in the area.

Valerie says he saw the burglar pose as a homeless man in a wheelchair.

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