California, USA - Three hooded and masked burglars smashed their way into the Ramona Market on Main Street Sunday, March 2, at midnight. Having disabled the store’s redundant security alarm systems, the burglars rampaged through the store for 30 minutes, breaking registers with a crow bar, strewing papers and inventory all around the store, smashing bottles, and destroying as much as stealing. Security cameras captured the burglary, showing the robbers wearing hooded sweatshirts, or “hoodies,” over ski masks and wearing gloves.
Main phone lines were cut before they even started the break-in, said store owner Rami Yousif after ordering a third redundancy on the store’s security system. Damage and theft add up to more than $40,000, he said. Safety was one of the most important reasons the Yousif family bought the Ramona Market, Yousif said.
“My family chose Ramona when we bought the store 15 years ago because it was a nice place to be at, people seemed to be nice, willing to do business. We knew that it would be safe,” he said. “Five years ago there were times when I forgot to lock the door overnight and everything would be untouched. It was Ramona.”
This is the second time the store has been vandalized and burglarized in the past three months, he said. He is concerned his 60-year-old father is upset and has lost his sense of safety. He is always watching out, because Ramona is not the same way it was, he said.
The Yousifs emigrated to San Diego from Greece in 1992 after fleeing there from Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Last Monday, an employee arrived to open the store only to find windows broken, doors damaged, and the store a mess.
The computer system was broken, cigarettes and calling cards were stolen, as was about a quarter of the liquor store. The store had to be shut for several hours for cleanup and to replace equipment. Repairs and readjustments took three days.
It appears the burglars had the run of the store and all the time they wanted to take anything they wanted. One of them opened the back door, and their bounty was carried off in a vehicle possibly driven by a fourth accomplice. The back door was left open when the crew arrived in the morning.
Still, video of the burglary shows the images people have grown accustomed to see in the evening news — frantic and agile young men leaping over counters, smashing bottles and ransacking the store.
A flashlight can be seen in the back pocket of one of the burglars, and a closer look at the frames shows these men are prepared with crow bars and disguises, at times deliberate in their actions, at times frenzied.
It is precisely that kind of organized and apparently well-planned crime that has moved Yousif to call for the Ramona business community to band together to protect itself and the peaceful tranquility of Ramona.
He said he does not yet know what form of action or organization the business community can put together, but he thinks it is a necessary step in preserving the Ramona way of life and the security of its business community.
In yet another crime along Main Street, two 18-year-olds reported being assaulted last Monday along Main and 13th streets by a group of between 15 and 18 youngsters, the smallest of whom hit the two men across the head with a pipe.
After stealing money and ATM cards, they left with the warning, “Don’t mess with the B Street Gang.” One of the victims required medical attention and was unable to work the next day. Several arrests have been made and sheriff’s detectives are working on identifying other attackers, said Sgt. Rick Turvey.
Regarding the Ramona Market burglary, Turvey said an investigation is ongoing.