CRESTVIEW — Business owners are dealing with the results of another break-in at their Crestview company, the third one since January.
The Crestview Police Department responded to a 1:41 a.m. alarm Sept. 17 at the Game Masters Guild, located at 743 Ashley Drive. Due to the alarm they had installed, owners Valerie and David Hunt knew about the break-in immediately as well.
"Getting that phone call in the middle of the night makes your heart want to explode, but you do what you have to do to prevent any further damage at that moment," Valerie Hunt said.
The cost of replacing the shattered front door and stolen cash drawer was about $500 for the couple, who have lived here over 16 years.
"We were able to reopen for normal business hours that same day, continuing with sales and gaming events as normal. We did the same thing during the incident back on Mother's Day," Valerie said.
Because the business is more than a retail store, it was important to them to re-open as soon as they could. "Our store is kind of like a community center, and even after an incident like this, many of our customers view our shop as a safe space, so we wanted to be closed for as little time as possible," she said.
The Hunts, who took a more proactive approach to protecting their business after the first theft, know there is more to be done.
"Relying on people to be decent human beings and not vandalize a business is just wishful thinking. We have a great community of gamers that support us and our shop. However, we have learned the hard way that some people really don't give a damn about our store or what happens to it, so we are shifting some of our business policies to reflect that," she said.
They operated GMG for seven years on Main Street without incident, and two and a half at the south Crestview location before the break-ins started. Due to those experiences, they have advice for all Crestview residents.
"Crime seems to be on the rise here, so we also want to remind residents … to be extra vigilant, securing their own homes, vehicles, and other property at all times. If you see any suspicious activity around you or a neighbor, you should report it immediately," the Hunts stated.
They will also post more photos of the intruders at http://www.facebook.com/GameMastersGuild.
When asked what companies can do to deter such crimes, CPD Commander Andrew Schneider said, "Securing the quick items that someone can break in and snatch and grab" is key, as well as adding security cameras and securing cash elsewhere instead of keeping it on site.
Anyone with more information about the break-in may call the CPD at 682-2055.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this headline erroneously referred to this incident as a robbery.