"We've been here so long, we left the money in the register every night when we close, done it for years -- never a problem," said Tim Holmes, who along with his wife Debbie, owns Vermont Used Furniture in Salisbury.
After 34 years operating, they say business is steady and their focus has always been on finding high quality goods -- not robbers. But over the last eight months their furniture store has been burglarized three times. The thieves used crowbars to pry open a side door and made off with over $600 from the register. With more than $1,000 in additional damages and no conviction yet, Holmes says he decided to take matters into his own hands. "I was sleeping in the store and we put a game camera in the building and one outside the building and we also put a monitor in there so I could hear it from the bedroom. My goal was not to keep him out, it was to catch him after he got in," Holmes said.
He says for more than a week, he slept on a couch in the store with his loaded handgun. Holmes says the police were doing what they could to try to catch the thief. But in the mean time, he says the 24/7 watch was giving him a piece of mind. But not for his wife, who imagined the worst. "I didn't sleep very good knowing he was down here. And if somebody broke in and he caught the guy or whatever, I just say, oh my gosh I hope the guy robbing the place doesn't have a gun too," Debbie Holmes said.
A robber struck the store again last Wednesday, but the Holmes were out of town, so no altercation took place. Although a game camera installed in the shop yielded only a picture of a hooded figure, a neighbor had noticed a suspicious vehicle and wrote down the license plate number -- a move that ultimately snagged the alleged burglar -- and possibly saved a few lives.
"It's just the safety aspect of it. Had someone broken in while he was in there, could something of bad happened? Sure -- so it's just the unknown," said Vermont State Police Sgt. Mark Perkins.
Sgt. Perkins said victims of break-ins can get frustrated when their thieves are not caught, but he urges people to keep themselves safe before anything. He recommends installing security lights, cameras and alarm systems. "Anything suspicious we recommend you call, we would rather have it be nothing, versus someone not calling and have it of been something really big or important that we should have been involved with," he said.
Sgt. Perkins also said knowing your neighbors and keeping an eye out for each other is key, and to always call police for any suspicious activity, no matter how small it may seem.
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