Vulnerable Cleveland convenience stores can't afford to stop smash and grabs

Posted at 4:04 PM, Oct 13, 2016

The number of smash and grabs in Cleveland continues to skyrocket.

So far this year there have been more than 70.

But reversing the destructive crime could mean financial disaster for small business owners.

Early Thursday morning, the Nela Deli on the city's east side became the latest target of thieves.

It's something we've seen many times before - crooks using a car to bust their way through a building.

"What do you do? You gonna sleep in your store?," said Bob Mustafa.

Mustafa manages the HP Mart on Lorain Avenue on the city's west side.

He said they would like to install concrete barriers like these in front of their store to stop smash and grab thieves in their tracks. However, it's a costly preventative measure.

"If you look at some of the store fronts it's a pretty long area in front that you have to protect," said Manny Sclimenti.

Sclimenti's North Ridgeville company, Petro Com, maintains more than 700 convenience stores in the state of Ohio.

Petro Com recently installed concrete barriers at stores recently hit - like the Dairy Mart on West 117th in Cleveland.

"We ended up installing the four six-inch barriers in front, so hopefully that will deter anyone else from doing that again," added Sclimenti.

The cost: $3,500.

While there's nothing on the books right now in Cleveland, some cities across the country require businesses like convenience stores to have barriers.

Smash and grabs in those location have been cut down by nearly 100% according to experts.

"It's a good option, but who's going to foot the bill? What if the small business owner can't afford it?," said Mustafa.

What was once not that common at convenience stores is now showing up in more places.

"We do see a lot of the blueprints coming out they spec out the ballards in front of the building now, so a lot of companies are doing that now right out of the gate," said Sclimenti.

The other major issue facing convenience store owners in Cleveland right now is that many of them are being dropped by their insurance after being hit by smash and grab crooks.

That reality is now forcing those who've been spared so far to take a closer look at installing barriers despite the cost.