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El Cajon restaurant's outdoor dining hit by thieves twice in days

Posted at 3:26 PM, Sep 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-03 21:15:23-04

EL CAJON, Calif. (KGTV) — An East County restaurant hit hard by the pandemic has been hit by thieves, twice in a three-day span.

Like so many other restaurants, the pandemic has not been kind to Hacienda Casa Blanca Mexican Restaurant and Cantina in El Cajon.

"Definitely not easy. It's been crazy with new changes every day," said co-owner Cindy Gomez.

Gomez says the restaurant has received a federal PPP loan, but revenues are down about 30% to 40% since March.

"From the first day, we've been trying to keep our staff working .. Haven't had to lay off anyone," said Gomez.

Gomez says they had to spend extra when COVID-19 restrictions led them to set up for dining in the parking lot. That extra money spent vanished overnight during a weekend a few weeks ago. Two large canopies and two umbrellas were stolen.

A few days later, there was another theft. This time, an umbrella, table, chairs, and a plant disappeared.

"Take a lot to get angry, but I got angry. Then it went to total frustration," said Gomez.

Eventually, the items from the second theft were recovered outside a nearby building. Gomez says her surveillance footage was deleted over, but she saw the video and believes both thefts may have involved transients.

"In the first theft, two men with shopping carts rolled into the parking lot, dismantled the canopies threw them into their carts, and rolled away," said Gomez.

The restaurant does store most of its outdoor set up inside, but what was left out, was targeted.