PINE BLUFF, Ark. — Pine Bluff police have received an increase in reported breaking and entering crimes— Margaret Smith, owner of Unique Cakes, experienced this firsthand after a recent break-in attempt early Sunday morning at her shop.
Smith said she considers her shop to be a safe haven in the community, and the experience had her a bit shaken up.
"It just makes you feel like someone's just invaded you," Smith said.
She said that her store's burglar alarm was set off around 4 a.m.
"My partner usually takes cupcakes to the casino every morning, so I was like, 'maybe he forgot when he walked in, you know, to disarm,'" Smith explained.
The robbers were unsuccessful in their attempt to steal from the business, but it's clear that they left some damage behind regardless.
"Every time you close the door, a little bit of glass comes out, so we are constantly sweeping," Smith said.
The Pine Bluff Police Department (PBPD) said the uptick in break-ins has been alarming for the entire community, and not just for businesses.
Sgt. Richard Wegner with the PBPD said that the break-ins are primarily happening to vehicles.
Since January of this year, there have been at least 161 reports of breaking and entering.
Police said they've seen individuals entering unlocked cars at night— predominantly young males, some of them armed with guns.
"The fact that these individuals are carrying firearms, especially rifles, is of greater concern," Sgt. Wegner said.
Wegner added that breaking and entering is a felony.
Police would like to remind people of a few things to ensure they won't be the next victim.
- If you observe a suspicious individual trying to get in a locked car, call 9-1-1 immediately. Please do not approach them, since they may be armed.
- Remember to always lock your car doors regardless of where your vehicle is parked.
- Always remove all valuables, especially firearms, from your vehicle when you are parking them overnight.
- Do not leave your vehicle running when you are away from them.
- If you see something, say something. Anonymous tips can be left on the detective office tip line at (870)-730-2106.
"Always be aware of your surroundings and that's not for B&E's, that's just for your self-protection," Wegner said.
Officers have not released any names of the men responsible for the attempted break-in at Unique Cakes, but have released images taken from surveillance videos of the men caught in action.
For Smith, she plans on increasing security around her shop in hopes that this never happens again.
But she couldn't help but wonder why someone would do this in the first place.
"It's like they're just doing something just to be doing something and there's no rhyme or reason behind it," Smith said.
If you have any information, PBPD is asking you to contact the detective office at (870)-730-2090, the dispatch center at (870)-541-5300, or the tip line at (870)-730-2106.