Coffee shop in Houston's East End hit hard by copper thieves

February 8, 2012 4:03:40 PM PST
Copper thieves targeted a new coffee shop on the city's east side. The owners of the Sombreros Coffee Shop got an unwelcome surprise when they arrived at work Wednesday morning.

Copper thieves had broken in, and caused thousands of dollars of damage. But there is a silver lining to this copper theft story.

When Yolanda Navarro and Lolita Guerrero came in to open their coffee shop, they were in for a surprise.

"They hurt us from trying to work with the community," Guerrero said. "This is a community place. It just cuts deep into our heart."

Overnight, someone broke through the back fencing, cut their electrical wiring and stole whatever copper they could.

"The CenterPoint guy told me at the most they can get $100 and it's going to cost us $15,000," Navarro said. "So at the end of the day, if somebody needed food or whatever we would have gladly given $30-50 and not close us down."

As longtime community activists in the East End, both women were hoping their coffee shop would become a gathering spot for friends and neighbors. What they didn't expect is that those same neighbors would come through when crime hits.

Neighbor Trenton Smith said, "I just came in for my cup of coffee, see my friends, and they were sitting down with tears in their eyes talking with the insurance company and energy company and trying to figure out what to do."

Smith immediately called his church and within hours had gathered enough money to buy a generator and set it up for the women.

"It's really about community, and God and just doing the right thing," he said.

The generator is a temporary fix that will allow the women to partially open for business until everything is fixed, and once again welcome East End neighbors in for a cup of coffee.

"Thanks God for neighbors," Guerrero said. "They say there is a silver lining to everything. These are times you really appreciate friends and neighbors come together to help each other."

Even though the coffee shop remains closed, they are working to get everything ready so they can hopefully be open for business Thursday morning.