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Small business owners along Southeast Division frustrated by repeated break-ins

Business owners believe the same man may be behind all of the recent burglaries.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Multiple break-ins at Coral Story Beauty on Southeast Division Street are making operating a small business during a pandemic all the more difficult for owner Morning Dove Barranger. 

"This is my passion," Barranger said. "This is what I love to do. It's super frustrating. It's violating."

Barranger said the first of two break-ins happened around 5 a.m. on Jan. 4. Surveillance video shows a man walking around the front of the business before moving to the back room. He is not wearing anything that conceals his identity. The man grabs a few items and the cash drawer and makes a getaway. 

He returned five days later. Barranger believes the burglar was looking for the cash drawer again, but it had not yet been replaced.

"It's unsettling to get those alarms waking you up in the early morning," Barranger said. "To come into your space, it's not a good feeling."

It is a feeling other business owners appear to be dealing with. Barranger says several neighboring businesses have also been burglarized. 

"This was a best-case scenario because he took cash and got out," said Nicole Whitesell, the CEO and founder of Adorn clothing boutique, which is just down the street from Coral Story. 

Credit: Nicole Whitesell
A thief got into Adorn on the morning of January 9.

Whitesell shared with KGW the security video of the Jan. 9 break-in at her business. The video shows the guy walking around her business in a COVID mask.

"I think what's disheartening to all of us is that we all know once they catch him he'll be released within 24 hours, most likely," Whitesell said.

Barranger is now tasked with beefing up security at her Southeast Portland shop. 

"This is something we can do that's not thousands of dollars," she said. "It's $300-$400. Hopefully, we don't need to do more."

Anyone who recognizes the person in the surveillance videos is urged to contact the Portland Police Bureau.

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