Plasma TVs at Small Businesses Favorite Target for Thieves

Oct. 19--North Natomas' growing number of service-oriented businesses featuring high-tech plasma TVs are drawing thieves with low-tech methods.

Since August, businesses along the Truxel Road business corridor have been burglarized for their televisions.

Sacramento Police Sgt. Terrell Marshall said thefts are taking place in the middle of the night.

"They take something, usually a big rock, and throw it through the front window," Marshall said.

A thief or thieves then rush inside and pull a television off the wall like stolen painting from an art gallery. Sometimes, the theft has been thwarted. Some business owners have nailed or bolted their televisions to the wall.

In other cases, the culprit walked out with a very expensive television tucked under an arm.

Marshall said the crime series began Aug. 18 at Max Muscle, 4391 Gateway Park Boulevard. Sean Arcure, the gym's owner, said he had just opened a few months earlier when the theft occurred.

The television had a small lock on the wall bracket, Arcure said.

"But they broke right through that," he said. "They took the television and two sweatshirts. They didn't take anything else. I had a laptop computer in here, but they didn't even mess with it."

Replacing the front door cost $350 and he's also upgraded security in the store, but Arcure hasn't replaced the $1,500 television.

"All they will do is break in and take it again," he said.

Police have responded to the crime wave by placing extra officers in the area and even staking out businesses. But the sheer number of service businesses in the booming area has made it impossible to be everywhere at once, officials said.

Meanwhile, police are asking businesses in Natomas and elsewhere to make sure their plasma televisions are securely fastened to the walls, that serial numbers are recorded and that the televisions have been marked so that they will be easy to identify if stolen.

Copyright (c) 2006, The Sacramento Bee, Calif. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Business News.