Break-ins continue at Brattleboro businesses

Published: May. 5, 2023 at 5:42 PM EDT
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BRATTLEBORO, Vt. (WCAX) - A string of recent break-ins in downtown Brattleboro has community members questioning what more can be done.

“It’s been pretty painful to see these things happen,” said Nancy Braus, who has owned Everyone’s Books for 39 years. She’s never had a problem with crime at her store. That is, until recently when break-ins prompted her to increase security measures. “Seeing what’s happening at the top. They see that there is a lot of lawlessness around and they think, ‘Why not me, you know, I need my fix, why not me.’”

Across the street, there was a smash-and-grab attempt at Brattleboro Books early this week. The owners say their petty cash -- which they no longer keep on site -- has been the target of burglars in the past. A window was smashed at the public library the same night. But the alarm scared off intruders. The building has also been hit more than once.

“We are not unlike most other small towns in this country,” said Erin Scaggs with Downtown Brattleboro, a group that promotes community activities. She says Brattleboro is a great town, highlighting the annual gallery walk festival, but says it’s not without problems including addiction and poverty. “We are all community members and we are all in this together and we want every community member to feel safe and valued and heard.”

“You have to approach it with compassion for the people involved, but being a small business owner, you also have to have compassion for people whose businesses are being vandalized,” said Robin Johnson, who runs a music venue in town that has also been the target of burglars.

Johnson and other business owners have been meeting with the select board to come up with solutions. “Talking about the need for more cameras and more oversight and physical presence of police in general in the downtown area,” he said.

Police are investigating the incidents. Anyone with information is asked to call the Brattleboro Police Department.