‘At my wits’ end’: California toy store repeatedly hit by thieves

State News

ALAMEDA, Calif. (NewsNation Now) — A California toy store owner says she is “at my wits’ end” after thieves and robbers have targeted her store multiple times, forcing her to pay tens of thousands of dollars for added security.

“We almost went under,” Helen Dean, the owner of Toy Safari in Alameda, told NewsNation. “In fact, each of the attacks … we’ve had to assess and evaluate and come to a decision and I don’t think I could take much more.”

Toy Safari has been hit three times, with Legos and Pokemon cards the primary target.

“I think that toy stores are notoriously accessible and easygoing and friendly and therefore vulnerable,” Dean said.

NewsNation has been highlighting recent retail theft problems ahead of the holidays. National retail groups last month estimated the annual losses to be in the tens of billions of dollars. Some states’ attorneys general are supporting a congressional bill that would require more prevention efforts by large online marketplaces, where experts say many of the stolen goods are fenced.

“We’re doing everything that’s been recommended to us,” Dean said. “We’ve changed our glass to laminated glass at really high expense, and we put in over 20 cameras in the store. And we have alarms on all of our glass now and our doors.”

So far, the alarm system has not been bypassed. Dean hopes it stays that way.

“I get a lot of support from the community,” Dean said. “We have very loyal customers who have been coming in and that’s really what keeps us going.”

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