A group of brazen thieves stole a roughly 300-pound steel safe from the office of Jesse Camille’s Restaurant owner Larry Erickson at the restaurant early Sunday morning.
Erickson told Patch that the incident occurred sometime between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. Erickson had left the building for the night around 11 p.m. Saturday and locked the door to his office on the third floor; a private party was still being held in the restaurant at 615 N. Church St., next to Hop Brook Golf Course, he said.
Nearly two hours later, Erickson’s bartender called him to say that he could not set the alarm to leave for the night. The two men thought there was a problem with the security system, until the security alarm company called Erickson around 2 a.m. and said the alarm sound was coming from the zone where Erickson’s office is located, he said. Erickson now believes his bartender could not turn on the alarm because someone was inside the building.
When he went back to the restaurant, Erickson noticed that the steel safe was somehow taken out of his office through a window and carried down a fire escape to a parking lot nearby, he said.
“I went into that building 18 years ago, and I still don’t know how we got that safe up the stairs because it’s so heavy and bulky,” he said, adding that there was a significant amount of cash, gift certificate money, bonds and personal items belonging to his family inside the safe.
“We are shocked and kind of freaked out by this because they were actually in the building when we were there,” he said.
Erickson, who leases the building from the borough, called the Naugatuck Police Department, which responded with detectives and a canine team. The canine worked to track the scents of possible suspects, while police looked for all possible clues and talked to Erickson. They noticed that the thieves cut the restaurant’s phone lines in an ill-fated attempt to stop the alarm from sounding. Erickson said he also found a headlamp that must have been used by the thieves to maneuver in the dark.
Erickson is meeting with the Naugatuck Police Department this morning (Monday, Oct. 7) to further discuss details of the investigation. He is hoping that surveillance video in the area may have spotted a getaway car or the thieves themselves.
Erickson, who is being honored with the Naugatuck Rotary Club’s highest honor this year for being involved in the community and working to improve the quality of life in Naugatuck, says he will remain in business. His business is insured and nothing in the building was damaged other than the phone lines.
“We will bounce back from this,” he said. “Looking back at it, the most important thing, thank God, is that Willie (the bartender) was out of there when this happened. They caused some headaches, but in the long run, you just say it could have been a lot worse considering people were in there.”
He said several people in the community called him on Sunday to wish him well.
“It’s a supportive town in that sense; many people have reached out,” he said. “We appreciate that very much.”