Police step up patrols in downtown Seaford
By Lynn R. Parks
For the first time in his 30 years of business, Dennis Russell does not feel safe in his High Street business.
“I am starting to get paranoid,” said Russell, owner of Act II florist. The store has been robbed four times since Oct. 29.
“I feel like somebody is watching me all the time,” added Russell, who lives in the same building where his business is located. “I don’t want to leave, but I don’t want to stay here either. It is worse at night. When it gets dark, I freak out.”
Russell’s is one of five downtown businesses that have been burglarized in the last several weeks. According to Lt. Gary Flood, spokesman for the Seaford Police Department, there were 10 burglaries on High Street and on the blocks near High Street from Oct. 29 through Nov. 18.
“We would like to put a stop to this, for everybody’s sake,” said Flood. “We don’t want to see this happen any more than the merchants do.”
In response to the burglaries, the police department has increased patrols in downtown, both by car and on foot. Patrolling officers are in uniform as well as plain clothes.
The department met with representatives of the Seaford Downtown Association on Nov. 7. On Nov. 11, an officer visited businesses along High Street to inform them of the burglaries.
Flood said that police believe that all the burglaries have been committed by the same person or people. “All have been in the same area, and they have used the same method to get in in all of them.” In all cases, entry was gained through breaking a window or prying open a window or door.
Police are asking anyone who notices any suspicious activity in the downtown area at night to call the department at 629-6644. Anyone with any information about the break-ins is asked to call the criminal investigation unit at 629-6648.
The Seaford Police Department, in conjunction with Delaware Crime Stoppers (800-TIP-3333) is offering a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone involved in the break-ins.
In addition, the burglars have focused on taking cash. From Act II, the burglars also took three bottles of wine, Russell said. He also believes that a florist’s knife – a small folding pocket knife – is missing.
Janice Lovett, an employee at the Seaford Pet Emporium, said that her store has been burglarized twice. Cash amounting to $180 was taken the first time.
“The second time, we didn’t think they got anything,” Lovett said. “But about 5 that afternoon, we found that a small pistol was missing. That scares us, because the next time he could use it on somebody.”
According to Flood, the stolen weapon is a .22-caliber handgun. Lovett said that a clip for the gun, which was in a metal box in an unlocked drawer, was also taken.
Flood said that the fact that a gun was stolen will not make the department any more determined to put an end to the burglaries. “But any time a gun is involved, it makes you sit up and take notice,” he added. “We certainly want to get the gun off the street.”
Lovett and Sara Lee Thomas, owner of the Fantasy Beauty Salon, said that the burglars do not leave any mess. “They cleaned up all the glass and put it behind the sign,” said Lovett.
“They are very neat,” added Thomas. “We didn’t even know anything was wrong until we opened the cash register.”
Thomas said that addition to cash, a box containing money and chances on a wreath being given away to benefit Hospice was taken from her salon.
Like Russell, Thomas has been in business on High Street for 30 years. She too is shaken by the break-ins.
“I am being very careful,” she said. “I have never been afraid before, but now I am very nervous about being here by myself or working late.”
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