‘We are targeted’: Break-ins and threatening messages anger restaurant owner

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A thief stole hundreds of cash and three tablets.

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Then someone damaged the back door of the restaurant and got away with a smoke detector and the keys to the door.

Another time someone left feces in the storage room.

And most recently on Thursday – the same day the business owner spoke about the burglaries – a message was painted on the Asian fusion restaurant’s front door with the words: “Ur a Rat”.

“We are targeted,” said Julia Hou, co-owner of Mr. and Mrs. Bao. “I don’t know the reason behind it, but it sure is intentional.”

When his restaurant was robbed around this time last year, the business was $300 short due to damaged shelves and a stolen cash drawer. Now, after four break-ins at the two London locations over the past week, that number has climbed to nearly $10,000.

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” I am very worried. I’m scared,” Hou said, adding that the tipping point came after he discovered the message outside the Richmond Street restaurant on Thursday. “There is almost a sense of entitlement in this message, that we are the bad guys. It’s almost like, ‘Oh, you can’t get away with chasing us.'”

Surveillance footage shows a thief stealing a cash drawer from Mr and Mrs Bao, an Asian fusion restaurant, at 276 Wharncliffe Rd. in London. It was one of many break-ins into the business over the course of a week.

CCTV of the July 4 break-in, reviewed by The Free Press, shows a person breaking down the front door to break into the restaurant at 276 Wharncliffe Rd, near Oxford Street. The suspect enters and tries to break the cash drawer several times before fleeing.

London Police’s Street Crime Unit is investigating a break-in at the Wharncliffe Road restaurant and a robbery at the Richmond Street location, a police spokesman said.

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But Hou, a student at the Ivey Business School at Western University, thinks police aren’t doing enough to deal with the recent spate of break-ins, most of which have been carried out by the same person.

“We dealt with it with the utmost urgency. But for the police they didn’t reflect the same level of attention,” she said. “I know they are dealing with other things that are priorities, but at the same time, it’s a reappearance.”

When asked if she had any idea why her business was being targeted, Hou said there were many reasons that came to mind.

“A while ago, Asian fusion restaurants were targeted in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area). That could be a reason,” she suggested, adding that it could also be because the restaurant is a small business.

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With many questions and few answers, Hou hopes the police will do more to find the suspect. “Without police support,” she said, “we’ll never know, or we could guess all we want.”

Each time Hou contacted the police to report the incident and provide video footage, she received the same response, she said. They say, “We will do our best. We will document everything and if we find them, we will let you know.

Mr. and Mrs. Bao started as a food truck business in 2017. Two years later, Hou and her business partner, who is also her husband, opened their first store in London. Since then, the company has grown to own six restaurants, under different banners.

Between dismay and frustration, Hou said she was very worried about her employees following the recent incidents. “They are the ones who work day in and day out,” she said. “We have to make sure that we’re looking after not only the business, but also them.”

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