Sunday, November 29, 2015 • 04:23

Easter break-in at Pointed Roof Deli

The door shown above was the door that was broken into at the Pointed Roof Deli on Easter Sunday.
May 07, 2014
On the morning of April 21 at 10:30 a.m., Debra Robinson was sweeping broken glass from the floors of Pointed Roof Deli. Her husband Rob was repairing the back door damaged as a result of a burglary the night before.

"We couldn't afford to be closed. We had to sanitize, throw away food, and sweep up glass to get the place up and running for business," Debra Robinson said.

There was broken glass everywhere, even out back, embedded between the wooden planks of the deck.

"Everyone pitched in to get the place back in order. We had to turn away a few customers while cleaning," Robinson said.

On Easter, an intruder broke into the Robinson's Deli. Using a long heavy metal tool resembling a nail puller or tire iron, the burglar smashed through dual-paned tempered glass then made his way through a wooden-framed door. For the next 51 minutes, the burglar ransacked the deli, stealing whatever he and an accomplice could carry out the door.

"It could have been much worse," Robinson said. "They could have completely trashed the place. A lot more damage could have been done in that amount of time."

From the surveillance camera, a white pick-up truck with an extended cab was viewed driving to the back of the building. Then a man gained access across the fence and could be seen in the back of the building walking around a cargo container. The surveillance imaging wasn't clear enough to identify the license plate of the truck or the burglar's face. He was wearing a painter's cap and black gloves. On the surveillance video, he is seen walking to the back door with the tire iron in his hands. At 12:02 a.m. the man broke into the building smashing through the glass door. At 12:09 a.m. he was viewed out behind the building talking on a cell phone. Three minutes later, a truck pulled up. Robinson surmised the driver of the truck was waiting nearby, watching. At 12:12 a.m. the truck arrived then left. At 12:53 a.m. the same truck pulled back in behind the fence. Two huge trash bags filled with food were taken to the truck.

Only the figure of the person breaking in could be seen on the video. "At one point he looked up at the camera and made a gesture as if shooting a bow and arrow right toward the camera," Robinson said. "His face was washed out in the light of motion so he couldn't be identified." Motion sensors detected the man walking right in front of the surveillance system. "He basically had no fear. We saw him a couple of times and what was left of our back door," she said.

After the thieves loaded the truck, they left the scene traveling west on Old Castle Road toward Champagne Boulevard.

Robinson is convinced the burglar was looking for money.

"We never leave cash in the register," she said. "We leave the cash drawer open every night so you can see there is no money and to keep a $2,500 piece of equipment from being destroyed.'

With no cash on the premises to steal, the burglar ransacked the place leaving papers strewn everywhere, the tech payroll was out, operating manuals were thrown about all over the floor.

"He was clearly looking for cash," said Robinson. "Since there was no money to steal, he decided to take food."

The thief managed to steal a pie, appetizers, potato chips, a 45-lb frozen turkey, drinks from the cooler, house potato salad, loaves of bread, bacon, sausage, scones, muffins, jars of organic jams recently purchased to sell, Italian meat, and 40 to 50 packages of Boar's Head meat and cheese products.

"Basically, he went shopping in my deli," Robinson said. "They made it worth their while. They filled up great big bags that go in trashcans. Smart & Final boxes that my husband used for delivery were filled with food."

Assured he would not be detected, the thief had the audacity to make himself a pastrami sandwich some time during the shopping spree. The next day, the Robinsons found lids of the prep table and deli case left ajar. An open loaf of bread was on the counter. A cambro containing pre-weighed meat including the pastrami the thief helped himself to remained on the counter along with the knife used to make the sandwich.

"Luckily, we got back in business pretty quickly," said Robinson.

A Boar's Head special order was delivered the following Monday morning, but a lot of food had to be thrown out. As a Certified Health Food Safety Manager, Robinson's job is to make sure everything is up to standards such as maintaining proper food temperatures. A chance couldn't be taken on speculating what the intruder touched. Nothing could be compromised so the pre-weighed meet, cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, and onions in the cambros had to be tossed.

Before the Deli could re-open, everything had to be sanitized and cleaned. A glass company was contacted for a special glass order.

"We are working with the insurance adjuster to get a claim going with a list of everything missing," said Robinson. She estimates the door will cost $600 to replace and the value of the items stolen is estimated at $1,500.

"We started the business one year and a half ago," Robinson said. "We put everything into this business. We have a low budget with no advertising. The last six months were looking promising, but the first year we didn't have the finances to invest in a security system. We're going to remedy that by talking to a security company to prevent this from happening again."

Initially, the Robinsons thought the fence surrounding the building provided a sense of security. There are three other businesses on the property, but the Deli appears to have been the only target for the break-in.

It is uncertain if recent burglaries of delis in the surrounding area such as The Hungry Bear in Escondido and Tina's Deli in San Marcos have any correlation to the Pointed Roof burglary. The Robinsons were made aware of the break-ins by provisioners who go from business to business taking weekly orders.

At 2:15 a.m. Easter morning, the Robinsons were notified of the break-in by a courier working for the veterinarian whose business is located on the same property. If the motive for stealing the food was to enjoy a big Easter meal, Robinson conjectures one family could not possibly eat the amount of food stolen. To track down the culprits, one of the first things the Robinsons did was check Craig's List, but no large quantities of food were advertised. Another possibility was selling the goods at a swap meet if the food was kept refrigerated. The Robinsons even went to the measures of driving around town to locate a white truck with an extended cab, but soon discovered trucks matching that description are commonplace.

"It has always been my dream to open a restaurant," Robinson said. A former corporate accountant, she researched the restaurant industry conducting MBA studies. The Robinsons' lives were completely changed when they drove by the building located at 8751 Old Castle Road, Valley Center that is now the Pointed Roof Deli and noticed the building was advertised for lease. They liked the charm and location of the building, so the owners were called the next morning.

"After nine months, we got the building in shape. It was tough the first year but now it's doing good," said Robinson. "After one and a half years, we have a good strong following of regulars. We know a lot of people by first-name basis and know what they like to order. It's friendly and cozy like home. This is all part of the risk of running a business. You get over the little hump and keep going."

The Robinsons encourage any neighbors living behind the Deli who heard or saw anything or if anyone else can provide information about the burglary to contact the Deli at (760) 749-9866.

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