CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Police believe the same man is responsible for eight burglaries targeting restaurants over the last 45 days.
Most burglaries happened at restaurants in the Dilworth and Myers Park neighborhoods. The Mellow Mushroom on Selwyn Avenue has been broken into three times in the last two weeks, including Monday night.
Other restaurants broken into include Mueller’s Sandwich Shop, Toast Café, The Philosopher’s Stone and Terra. Luxe Home Couture was also broken into by the same man, police say.
"This is supposed to be an anti-pick device to keep somebody from being able to pick this and pull the door open, but somehow he's able to get this,” said Mellow Mushroom owner Marc Kieffer, while showing the back door.
Surveillance video from the Mellow Mushroom shows the man in action. He pulls up on a bicycle, puts socks on his hands to prevent leaving fingerprints, pries the door open, smashes the cash register to the ground and steals money. Kieffer says between the stolen money and damage to his equipment, the total is in the thousands of dollars.
"Usually about two minutes—that's all it takes to get inside to get the cash register and get out,” said Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department officer Jim Gilliland.
The suspect rides away on his bicycle and could be using side streets or the greenway path to get away.
Kieffer said the burglaries are becoming frustrating.
"At first you don't think he's going to do it a second time and the third time you're just like you don't know what to do anymore,” he said.
Kieffer brought lock companies out to check the doors. Door frame reinforcements are on their way.
Police are handing out stickers to local businesses that say there is no money in the register after closing. They even suggest taking it a step further.
"Even open the drawers and show they can be seen from the outside that there's no cash available,” Gilliland said.
"We'll just keep trying to find new things until we find out a way to make the guy stop doing this, or until he gets caught,” Kieffer said.
No one has been hurt in any of the burglaries. The suspect typically breaks in around 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. when the businesses are closed and nobody is around.
Police are asking for help identifying the man in the surveillance video.