Student spike heightens theft to businesses

Dallas Darnell.jpg
Dallas Darnell, assistant manager of Blaze 'N J's, stands in front of the building. Photo credit: Alex Nelson

In anticipation of the school year, local businesses do everything they can to prepare for more people, sales, theft and vandalism.

Chico businesses ramp up on inventory, employees and other measures to ensure their success in the fall.

Dallas Darnell, assistant manager of Blaze ‘N J’s Smoke Shop on West 9th St., is invested in the success of the business.

“It’s a job, it pays the bills, we want it as professional as it can be,” Darnell said. “We no longer [employ] friends or family members.”

This is in reference to the amount of internal theft, Darnell says. In the past four years, one of every two people who climb the ranks end up being let go because of their sticky fingers.

The AT&T; office on East 20th St., The Dungeon and the Jon & Bon’s Yogurt Shoppe on Broadway has experienced shattered windows in recent years.

Over the summer, Blaze ‘N J’s have two employees working at night and two during the day, but in the fall, the staffing is doubled due to theft and the increase in business.

“We have more employees when school starts,” Darnell said. “We’ve added surveillance cameras and we follow company policies more closely.”

He also mentioned that smaller, more tempting items are placed behind the counters.

Sammy Whittemore, assistant manager of Celestino’s New York Pizza, has also seen a resurgence of customers as both Chico High School and Chico State students pour in to get their fill.

“We’re slammed,” Whittemore said. “We have to work harder and faster paced. It’s more consistent, and there’s no parking!”

In response to theft, employees are told to keep their eyes open for missing bills in the register and one to two more employees are added per shift.

“Summer was busier than normal,” Whittemore said. “We weren’t completely dead, but business has nearly doubled.”

Even outside of work, Whittemore has reported being a victim of theft when her bike was stolen.

Whittemore also added that the front entrance leading up to the restaurant has been crudely tagged, and bathroom vandalism was so frequent that Celestino’s revoked the option of providing a restroom entirely. Over the summer, the restrooms remained in good condition so they have since been reopened to customers.

Having property vandalized and stolen is enough to warrant concern and advise precautions against such crimes.

Alex Nelson can be reached at [email protected] or @alexxrn on Twitter.