Owner of burglarized restaurant asks community to help ID suspect

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ST. CROIX - A Christiansted restaurant owner is seeking help from the community to identify and capture a burglar caught on surveillance video after breaking into the business early Wednesday morning.

Collin Hodge, owner of Subway Orange Grove, said Wednesday that he went to open the restaurant about 5:30 a.m. Wednesday and realized there had been a break-in.

Hodge said the burglar broke the restaurant's glass front door and made a beeline directly over the counter and to the cash register, where he took out loose petty cash that had been left in the register and fled.

Hodge said the entire break-in, theft and the suspect fleeing took less than a minute, and police had not been able to identify or capture the burglar as of Wednesday afternoon.

"It all happened so quick. He looked around and saw that nobody was inside or in the area then broke in the glass, rushed in and was out, really quick," Hodge said. "I'm just glad no one was injured in this incident and we were able to catch it all on video."

Hodge said the theft has been classified as a third-degree burglary and appears to be random and not a premeditated attack on the business.

He said he had received notification of an activated alarm at the establishment about 1 a.m., and when he arrived, he met police there but found no break-in and other suspicious person in the area.

However, the actual break-in took place about 45 minutes after the alarm call.

"I don't know why I wasn't called the second time, but I'm looking into that," he said.

Hodge said multiple surveillance videos on the premises captured the man's image outside and inside the restaurant and will be a great aid to assist investigators as they work toward solving the case.

"We have several cameras that caught this as it unfolded," he said. "We want the community to please help the VIPD, help us and the community to get this robber off our streets."

He said owning a business in a tough economy is a struggle and incidents like break-ins and robberies only create more obstacles for owners to overcome. He said repairs to the damaged front glass - an added out-of-pocket expense for him - were completed early enough that the business' scheduled opening was not disrupted and the police department also worked quickly to wrap up their preliminary investigation.

"I'm just glad nobody was injured. It happened when we were closed, and hopefully they find him soon," Hodge said.

Anyone with information can call police at 911 or call the confidential tip line at Crime Stopper USVI at 1-800-222-8477.

- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email fstokes@dailynews.vi.

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