ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Albuquerque Police Department (APD) believes they’ve identified the window pane thief. They believe it to be a woman who, for the past three months, has been caught on camera breaking into local businesses by taking out entire window panes of glass.
Wednesday night, APD issued a warrant for her arrest. Kellie Shugart, 40, is wanted for around 70 counts ranging from burglary to tampering with evidence. All of these crimes were committed in early May and hit mostly salons.
Luana Pohl, owner, and esthetician of Renaissance Hair Skin and Nails was burglarized early last month. “It happened in July. We got notified by our security company that there was a burglar alarm. We look on the video. Sure enough, we could see somebody in the salon.”
APD charged Kellie Shugart for breaking into businesses by removing the window pane. Shugart was captured multiple times on video surveillance in the act. “They took it was about two thousand dollars plus a window that’s six hundred dollars,” Pohl says. In the last two months, Pohl says she’s been burglarized three times.
A little over a week later across town, Jessica Carothers’ business was hit the same way. Police say the crime was done by Shugart. “When they got inside, obviously my business had been ransacked. There were thousands of dollars worth of retail plus all of our front desk computer equipment,” Carothers says, “It was about twelve thousand dollars.”
Carothers had also been robbed multiple times. The arrest warrant states Shugart did this to 17 small businesses—mostly hair and nail salons and spas—all since May 7th. “The small business community in New Mexico is already on its knees. We’ve been through two years of pandemic restrictions. A lot of businesses didn’t make it. A lot of businesses closed. And those of us that are still standing, we really could use a break!” Carothers says.
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Lynn Russell, a security alarm expert at The Alarm Store, says by removing the whole window, they aren’t tripping the alarms like a smash-and-grab operation would. So how can businesses prevent this kind of break-in? “You could go to more steps of securing that trim either through adhesives or screws to keep your window panes in place. That’s less than needing to go to the wrought iron that we see in many locations,” Russell says.
Shugart was arrested on August 4 for trying to rob a cannabis dispensary, but she was released on her own recognizance by August 6. Police are currently searching for her.
Police note in the arrest warrant that around 50 other burglaries were reported in the past two months, many with window panes removed targeting personal care businesses. However, police say there’s a lack of evidence to tie Shugart to those cases.