UP to 12 city businesses have been left counting the cost of lost cash and damaged offices this week following a spate of break and enters in Queanbeyan over the weekend.
The break-ins occurred across Friday and Saturday night, with a number of Crawford and Monaro street businesses targeted, including several retailers inside Lawrence House.
Curves Fitness owner Lara Zelenka told The Queanbeyan Age her business was broken into on Friday night or early Saturday morning, with the offender/s stealing a small amount of cash from inside a locked filing cabinet. But greater than the amount of cash stolen was the damage caused to her business, she said.
"There's been a lot of damage, with jimmy bars by the look of it. They snapped the front door locks completely, and completely peeled the front off my filing cabinet, which was locked."
She said the break-in had left her staff feeling vulnerable and shaken, as well as interrupting trade on Monday and Tuesday.
"They did just enough (damage) to be a pain in the bum really. There will be some angry owners around town this week, I can tell you."
Spackman Real Estate property manager Chantelle Kreti also had a crime scene to deal with when she came in to her workplace on Sunday morning. She told The Age that a small amount of cash had been taken by the offender/s, who also hit a number of neighbouring businesses on the lower level of Lawrence House.
Queanbeyan Inspector Neil Grey said that was consistent with many of the break-ins, with the offender/s targeting businesses that shared an access point.
Detectives are currently investigating the crimes and are interested in speaking to a male suspect described as Caucasian, aged in his thirties, unshaven, wearing a light coloured hoodie who was seen riding a bicycle in the area.
Insp. Grey said police weren't ruling out the possibility of multiple offenders.
"Obviously we're focussing our attention on the one person that has been described to us, but we're certainly not ruling out that others are involved," he said
And he encouraged local business owners to bolster their security measures and not leave cash on premises in the wake of the break-ins.
"People just need to ensure that their premises are locked up and that windows and doors are secured. Secondly that they don't keep cash on premises and thirdly, if an alarm goes off, to treat it seriously," Insp. Grey said.
"It definitely surprises me that businesses still leave cash on premises."
Local police and Queanbeyan City Council will hold a joint business safety seminar on Tuesday, April 8 for local businesses.