Breaking News
More () »

Fort Smith police form special task force amid multiple break-ins targeting businesses

An uptick in commercial burglaries leaves local police searching, and businesses vulnerable.

FORT SMITH, Ark. — Fort Smith businesses have been at the center of several burglaries in recent weeks. On Rogers Avenue, Cheers Liquor is one of the stores broken into, and it is owner Kerri Taake left asking why.

"It's more of a question of why would somebody do this," said Taake.

For more than a decade, Taake and her family have owned and operated Cheers Liquor. Early last Thursday morning, she was awoken by a phone call from her alarm company, alerting her to a possible break-in, a first for their store.

Upon reviewing security footage, the suspect's face was hidden from view, but Taake was able to see exactly what was done.

"A person had thrown a rock through our front door and entered the store to take a small amount of petty cash and a bottle of liquor," said Taake.

In the days following, she has spoken with friends who own their own businesses that were also burglarized.

She says the financial impact to clean up and reopen is the biggest impact.

"It's locally-owned businesses, you know, these aren't your big-chain businesses, these are businesses that are locally owned by people here," said Taake. "It hurts."

Police reports from Taake and other businesses have Fort Smith Police investigating.

"We're addressing those, they're all open investigations at this time," explained Aric Mitchell, Fort Smith Police Public Information Officer.

At this time, detectives are not sure if any burglary is connected. However, they have noticed the targeted businesses are similar.

"They're definitely targeting the smaller type of business, like liquor stores, convenience stores," said Mitchell.

Fort Smith Police believe there is a reason why these stores have been at the center of the crimes.

"This type of crime doesn't take long to pull off, it only takes 30 seconds or so to smash a window, jump in, grab the cash and go," says Mitchell.

Even with precautions and security measures like "16 cameras, Ring cameras, we keep the store lit up, alarm systems," smash-and-grab burglaries happen quickly, often with suspects leaving the scene before police can arrive.

Taake says in all the years she has been in business she has never felt so violated, "just really never felt that way." Now she is looking for answers.

Fort Smith Police want Taake and other businesses to know they are investigating and working to find a break in the case, but want the public to know they can also help.

"If you see anything out on the street in an area where it seems it should not be, if there's an individual who isn't acting right around a business, just give us a call," says Mitchell. "It may be nothing, but it may be the thing that helps us break a case."

Follow 5NEWS on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube

Download the 5NEWS app on your smartphone:

Stream 5NEWS 24/7 on the 5+ app: How to watch the 5+ app on your streaming device

To report a typo or grammatical error, please email KFSMDigitalTeam@tegna.com and detail which story you're referring to.

Before You Leave, Check This Out