Store owner fortifies shop after thief rams truck through building

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Getting burglarized is bad enough. Getting burglarized in a smash and grab is a double whammy. The thieves make off with the loot, and the owner is also left with an expensive mess.

Now, one Albuquerque shop owner is taking creative measures to keep it from happening to him again. 

“Smash and grab is a way of life for some of these people,” said Stephen McCampbell, owner of Fat Tire Cyles in Albuquerque. Fixing the damage can cost more than the theft. 

As the owner of Fat Tire Cycles since 1978, McCampbell knows a thing or two about what it takes to keep a small business running. 

“You have to do some minimal things just to protect yourself, but minimal things don’t work against these guys now,” he explained. 

It’s why he has smart cameras surrounding his store, with a security company monitoring the feed 24/7.

So when cameras captured a box truck crashing into McCampbell’s store on Montaño near Edith back in November, deputies were already on their way.  

“Within two minutes, they were here,” McCampbell recalled. “And the guy was stealing those BMX bikes over there,” he pointed to the rack of bikes inside the shop. 

Deputies said it was Lyle Roberts who smashed through the bike shop’s back door with the truck’s liftgate, then tried to make his getaway on a stolen bike before deputies arrested him. 

Even though the heist was thwarted, the damage left behind was extensive. 

“Trying to get somebody who can replace a steel door on a Sunday is very difficult,” McCampbell said.      
He learned drive-thru break-ins are more common than you might think, leaving shop owners to pick up the pieces. 

“It was a mess,” McCampbell said. The police report cited tens of thousands of dollars in damage. 

With a glass storefront, McCampbell didn’t want to leave his shop vulnerable. To keep this from happening again, McCampbell had massive rock art installed along the front of his shop to fortify his business. Behind each of the rocks are steel posts buried three feet underground.

A local shop called Stone Images did the rock art and Ballard installation. McCampbell added a row of Ballards along the back of his shop. 

But these added security measures aren’t covered by insurance. He said things like this definitely make it harder to be a small business owner in Albuquerque.

Albuquerque Police Officer Simon Drobik sees this type of break-in all too often. “Usually they’re in a stolen car when they commit these crimes,” said Drobik. 

That’s true in this case, too. According to a criminal complaint, Roberts used a stolen box truck in the drive-thru break-in that he’d been driving around with duct tape over the company logo.  

“He stole the truck on a Wednesday night and he hit us on a Sunday morning,” McCampbell said. 

Court documents also state Roberts was taken to the hospital after showing signs of a seizure, “which he later admitted to faking,” the complaint states.

Roberts was released on his own recognizance a month later. Even though two months earlier, records show Roberts was indicted for stealing copper wire from a Sprint cell phone tower, leaving damage in excess of $10,000.

“It really affects the economy in Albuquerque, small business owners, and the police department on top of it are arresting the same guy over and over,” Drobik explained. “So yes, we would definitely like to see these guys locked up.”

McCampbell knows what it takes to run a business, and he hopes the steps he’s taking to protect it will help keep his doors open for years to come.

The man who broke into Fat Tire Cycles was indicted for burglary, receiving or transferring a stolen truck, criminal damage, and possession of burglary tools. If convicted, he faces up to six years in prison.

Roberts is scheduled for a jury trial in this case in August 2019. 
 

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