By CAROL ROBIDOUX
Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY – When Joe Sabatino found out his restaurant had been burglarized last Tuesday, the first thing he did was call the police. The second thing he did was go across the street to see if anyone at C&K Restaurant had seen or heard anything.
“You don't know, after something like this, what it's going to lead to – you want to make sure other businesses are OK, and know what going on,” said Sabatino last week.
Sometime between the time he left work on Sept. 16 at 10 p.m. and the next morning, burglars smashed a window in the rear of Sabatino's North, crawled through the small opening, went into the basement and hauled a safe up the stairs.
“I guess when they realized they couldn't get it out with them, they hacked into the safe a meat cleaver and took the money,” said Sabatino. Before leaving, they also cleaned out a cash drawer and stole some alcohol.
“When the detective came to talk to me, he mentioned that Depot Steakhouse was broken into right before they closed. I would have liked to know that – it would have been good to have a head's up,” said Sabatino.
Last week downtown business owners were also learning about some other break-ins within a few block radius of the downtown business hub – an overnight burglary Sept. 22 at Kittredge Farms was discovered by owner Aaron Plummer, who reported the break in. He also told police that two handguns were stolen in that incident.
Derry Police Capt. Vern Thomas said Friday that the guns were recovered the same day after a Derry teen was arrested following a car accident on Route 28. William Flibotte, 17, of 4 Martin St., was not only found in possession of the guns, but was also charged on an existing warrant for the August 26 burglary at Depot Steakhouse, in which cash and alcohol were stolen two days before the now defunct business abruptly closed its doors.
Martin Street happens to be about a block from Sabatino's, situated just off Broadway next to property owned by Benson's Hardware, where the town's weekly farmer's market sets up.
Sabatino said his own misfortune got him talking to some other business owners in town, who are all on edge. In the process he also heard that there have been other burglaries or attempted burglaries on his block – at Fine Lines Barbershop just down the road from him, and at Brother's Corner Variety, a few blocks away on 34 South Ave.
Attempts to reach someone for comment at the barbershop were unsuccessful. However, last night Steve DePaula Sr. of the variety store confirmed that his business had been hit twice in the past two weeks – the first time on Sept. 15, in which someone got into the store and got away with cash. The second attempt, last week, was unsuccessful, DePaula said.
“You feel like you have to stay at the store around the clock, to keep watch,” said DePaula. “You get your guard up after someone breaks in.”
He said he had not heard from police – or anyone – about other break-ins in the neighborhood, but more police patrols and better communication would help.
Crystal Cote, who works at Jake D's Roast Beef and Pizza at 14 W Broadway, said she had not heard about the other burglaries – but she was still a little shaken from her own burglary scare Saturday night.
“Our alarm went off – the motion sensors from the cameras triggered it, so the police showed up. Luckily, I was just across the street, at the Halligan,” said Cote.
She said she had just closed up the restaurant and was at the Halligan Tavern next door when she saw police. She said the timing made her think that it was almost like someone had been watching, and knew that she had locked up for the night.
“The police were great – they walked through and checked the whole store, but when I opened this morning I was petrified,” Cote said.
George Burgois, manager at Rig-A-Tony's, a restaurant on the other side of the Halligan Tavern, said last night that he had heard about some of the other break-ins.
“We haven't had any trouble lately, although we've had break-ins in the past,” said Burgois. “But we have a good security system. There are a lot of bad things going on – everybody thinks there should be more police patrols.”
According to the Derry Police logs, officers have responded to other burglar alarms that have sounded in the last few weeks on East Broadway, on Sept. 15 at Revive Salon and Spa and on Sept. 19 at Brunelle Stamps & Coins.
It's important to note that security systems can be triggered by any number of things, and police regularly respond to burglar alarms only to find it is the result of employee error or some other unknown trigger.
However, Cote said given the cluster of burglaries in the downtown area over the past few weeks, and the fact that Saturday was the first time in the year she's been working at Jake D's that the burglar alarm was triggered, she will be on high alert.
“I hope there will be more police patrols, at least until they find out what's going on,” Cote said.