First published in the Dec. 3 print issue of the South Pasadena Review
Camille DePedrini said she knew about the break-ins at big stores in the Los Angeles area, but the news about a break-in at her store — Camille DePedrini Boutique — personalized the problem.
At least one burglar broke into her clothing store at 1516 Mission St. about 3:15 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 27, and took approximately $9,000 worth of jewelry, she said. Police said they are looking for a suspect or suspects in the case.
“I felt frightened at first. Scared,” she said a day after the break-in. “It’s part of the zeitgeist of what’s happening in our society. I guess I just never thought it would happen here in South Pasadena.”
Although her store was burglarized, DePedrini was referring to what are called “flash robberies,” in which a group of people rush the front entrance of a store while it is still open and start taking merchandise before exiting with what they could take. Urban chain and department retailers have in recent weeks been hit by these acts, which have drawn scrutiny to the Bay Area in particular.
DePedrini said that she thinks that there were possibly a few people who broke her front door and immediately smashed three showcases — taking about a third of her jewelry, some costume and some with stones — and nothing else. She added that she suspected the thieves may have previously visited her store.
“I guess they heard the alarm go off and knew how long it might take for the police to arrive,” said DePedrini. “It’s like they got what they could get with the least amount of effort.”
The store’s alarm went off, but there was no video system in place at the time of the theft. DePedrini said that she is going to remedy that situation.
Police said that they were immediately notified and responded to the alarm. By the time they arrived, whoever had taken the merchandise were gone. No fingerprints were immediately found at the scene, DePedrini said.
The South Pasadena Police Department said that it is increasing its patrolling of the business district for the next few weeks and decoy vehicles — vehicles that appear to be used by officers on patrol — will also be parked in the area.
Anyone with knowledge or video of the incident should call (626) 403-7297, police added.
DePedrini said that she still has jewelry to sell and urged her customers to continue their holiday shopping for clothes and other gifts at her store.
“We are thankful for the outpouring of support and kind words as a result of the break-in,” she said. “We are resilient and open for business as usual. Our store is stocked with beautiful things as always and we are looking forward to a festive holiday season.”