Metro police believe a string of business burglaries in the Hermitage-Donelson area are likely the work of the same group of burglars.
MNPD said a total of five business break-ins since April show the same pattern. The crooks break through a ceiling vent to gain entry into a business to burglarize the location.
The burglars then use tools to break through neighboring walls to enter adjacent businesses. They keep going, burglarizing each neighboring business along the way.
The most recent group of burglaries happened in the 3600 block of Bell Road Tuesday.
Burglars broke into the La Hacienda Mexican Restaurant through an air conditioning vent over the bar. They broke into safes, cash registers and stole liquor.
“They caused about $8,000 in damage and got about $1,000 in cash,” Owner Gustavo Torres said. “You don’t feel comfortable anymore.”’
The burglars broke into a neighboring nail salon, empty building and were attempting to break through the wall of the Starkey Bait Shop. The owners were sleeping in the business along with their German shepherd.
The dog’s barking scared the burglars away.
The owner of the business called 911 and Metro police told News 2 they arrived in two minutes, but the burglars had escaped.
Dating back to April there have been similar business burglaries.
In April the burglars broke into businesses at 3441 Lebanon Pike, May 15 they broke into Qdoba and attempted to break into another business at 5225 Old Hickory Boulevard.
On May 29 they broke into Mirko Pasta and two neighboring businesses at 2264 Lebanon Pike, June 1 they broke into businesses at 1851 and 1853 Air Lane Drive and then on July 8 they broke into La Hacienda and neighboring businesses.
Metro police confirmed to News 2 that investigators believe all of the burglaries were pulled off by the same group of people.
Investigators also said the criminals likely have construction backgrounds, knowledge of ways to break into buildings have a ladder with them and follow a specific pattern, focusing in the Hermitage-Donelson area.
There has been no other business burglaries that match these reported in any of Metro’s other police precincts.
MNPD told News 2 Hermitage precinct officers have increased their business checks in the area. They are also asking the public to keep an eye out for suspicious activity at strip malls, especially after businesses have closed.
Many of the businesses that were victimized have made upgrades to their alarm systems. At the shopping center on Bell Road the property manager told News 2 his company is hiring a private security firm to patrol at night.
Torres told News 2 he believes the crooks were at one time his customers, possibly eating inside his restaurant so they could see the best way to break in to the business after hours.
“How could they know where the air conditioner is?” He said. “They must have been here.”
Anyone with information about these business burglaries is urged to call Crime Stoppers at 74-CRIME or text CASH to 274637 (CRIMES) or online at NashvilleCrimeStoppers.com.