Rash of burglaries in Oildale spurs investigation

Rash of burglaries in Oildale spurs investigation
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — A tip to Eyewitness News alerts us to a string of burglaries in Oildale. Several business owners, struggling to make it in this tough economy, have taken big hits to their bottom lines.

Shop owners believe thieves have gotten more aggressive recently, saying they hit one store twice in a 24-hour period. Sheriff's investigators have pulled fingerprints, but, in surveillance video taken from one of the businesses, the thieves we're caught on camera.

Most of the burglaries are categorized as smash-and-grab, where the burglars busted out a window and made off with the merchandise. Within a minute, thieves robbed the U Roll it Smokes store of $3,000.

"It has set me back about three months. This store breaks even at best, and I've spent my Social Security on it ever since I got here, just trying to keep the doors open," says the store’s owner Bill Edmondson.

He says he's not the only business recently targeted on this stretch of North Chester Avenue. "We've had several burglaries in the neighborhood, plus broken windows," says Edmondson.

About a week after the first break-in, grow shop Happy Hydro was burglarized for roughly $600 in merchandise. Less than 24 hours later, the thieves returned, stealing computers and video cameras. In total, Happy Hydro lost $2,000.

Owner TJ Esposito, says the list of burglaries continues. "There's been a string of robberies, Hotties down the street, the cigarette store, Wicked Clothing got broken into," says Esposito.

The Kern County Sheriff's Office tells Eyewitness News that it has an investigator assigned to at least one of the cases. Officers believe that the same suspects may be involved in some of the other burglaries.

Frustrated by the string of burglaries, store owners are speaking out.

"Hopefully they are out there catching these guys. It's just a break-in, but you're talking five or six companies with different employees. What if somebody were to go out of business because of these guys," says Esposito.

Owners say they have a good idea who one of possible thieves could be from the surveillance video and hope detectives catch up with them soon.

In the meantime, they are taking action by adding bars to the windows and more cameras. Kern County detectives are also confirming they have evidence and plan to move forward soon.