Some owners who have closed their shops and restaurants because of the coronavirus pandemic — and even some owners whose businesses remain open — have taken the extra precaution of boarding up their windows in case burglars attempt to enter or social order breaks down.
A cluster of businesses in Redlands, a restaurant in Claremont and a Goodwill Industries outlet in Long Beach are among those seen with plywood protection.
In response to these concerns, some law enforcement agencies have rearranged their departments in order to free up officers to make extra patrols in commercial areas. They also caution that boarding up storefronts could actually help criminals avoid detection.
Furry Face owner Lorin Grow said she is concerned about what might come next in the crisis. Her business on E. State Street in Redlands, which sells pet food among other services, is still open but is accepting phone orders only.
“In an abundance of caution to protect our business should the current COVID-19 climate continue to worsen, we had all of our glass windows and doors boarded up,” a Facebook post said on March 20.
Darby’s American Cantina on E. State Street in Redlands is closed. So are the nearby Royal Falconer Pub & Restaurant and Citrone Restaurant & Bar. Darby’s and the Royal Falconer tried to put a happy face on the situation, decorating their boards with heart-shaped oranges.
Darby’s owner Jon Darby declined to comment on his reason for boarding up the restaurant. A message on its Facebook page says, “Darby’s would like to thank our loyal guests for their continued support. We look forward to serving you soon!”
Edgar & James, which sells high-end Goodwill Industries merchandise in its Atlantic Avenue location in Long Beach, has boarded up its storefront. No one answered the phone at the business, and messages left with Goodwill officials were not returned Friday. All Goodwill donation locations have closed.
At Aruffo’s Italian Cuisine on Yale Avenue in Claremont, plywood covers the storefront windows and doors.
“Ciao. Open when order lifted,” someone wrote on the wood covering the door.
Redlands police understand business owners’ concerns, said Carl Baker, a department spokesman, but the city is discouraging owners from boarding up their doors and windows. Officers need to be able to see inside, he explained.
Redlands Police Chief Police Chief Chris Catren has shifted officers from the special-assignment units such as gangs to patrols so that the city will have extra coverage in commercial areas every day, particularly at night. Baker said business owners can help those officers by taking these steps:
• Keep the business lit at night, inside and out.• Keep windows uncovered so officers can look inside.• Make sure alarms and video surveillance systems are working and report suspicious activity immediately.• Empty cash registers and make it obvious that they are empty by leaving them open with the drawers removed.
Sgt. John Echevarria, a San Bernardino police spokesman, said his department is encouraging business owners, employees and customers to remain calm and cordial. He said he has not noticed businesses boarding up out of concern for burglaries.
“We have increased our extra patrols throughout our city limits and we are doing our best to be as visible and helpful as possible. This is throughout the week, the weekend and around the clock,” Echevarria said.
Additionally, school resource officers are doing extra patrols not just at the schools, but in the surrounding neighborhoods at homes, businesses, vehicles, churches and parks.
“Patrol officers are also interacting with the public as much as possible to reassure them that we are out there protecting our community,” Echevarria said.
Officials in Riverside and Murrieta said they have not seen businesses boarding up, either.
Riverside police Officer Ryan Railsback, a department spokesman, encouraged business owners to take whatever measures they believe are necessary. The department is conducting additional patrols, he said.
Murrieta police have not begun extra patrols, city spokeswoman Robin Godfrey said.
“While businesses are hurting for sure, we are lucky to have a super-engaged and active city Police Department, and that keeps crime low. Plus, it seems that residents and businesses are really looking out for each other right now,” she said.