(aka The Trials and Tribulations of a Small Business Owner)


Crown Cleaners has been the target of a thief. Perhaps the same thief because each time the break-in is so similar.

The person or persons strike only after the store has closed and employees have left for the day. They seem to know exactly where the cash drawer is stored and take all the money that had been left for the next day. The vending machine is raided. If something of obvious value is nearby, such as a laptop, it will also be taken. To my great surprise, a bag of unopened candy was taken one time. The building is never trashed. And the equipment doesn’t appear to be touched. Each time, the only major damage sustained is a broken door and/or window so the criminal(s) can enter the closed store.

When I share these details with customers, friends, and family, everyone always asks the same question: “Why would someone break-in to a dry cleaner?”

To be honest, I’m not sure I understand it myself. It’s true dry cleaners used to deal in a lot of cash. But debit cards have dramatically reduced our number of cash transactions, so there is very little money on-site at any given time.

I am very grateful the break-ins are relatively minor in comparison to what some other small business owners have to deal with; however, there is a cost involved for both Crown Cleaners and the community. In addition to the monetary cost of replacing the cash and repairing or replacing the door and/or broken glass, there’s also a loss of many people’s time. I spend at least a couple of hours on various tasks each time this happens. Police officers are called in to investigate. Sometimes an employee provides a statement. All of this headache is for a few bucks, just enough to buy a pill or two, according to one officer.

There is also an emotional cost involved. Break-ins scare my employees and my customers. I want to assure everyone that they and their clothes are safe at Crown Cleaners. As I mentioned, the break-ins happen after the store has closed. Because there is very little money on the premises, even during business hours, the risk of a robbery happening during the day is very low. Dry cleaners are busy places, so the bad guys are unable to predict how many people will be at a store at any given time. As an additional deterrent to the bad guys, multiple people are almost always working.

The break-ins used to happen about once a year, but recently it has happened three times – on the nights of Aug. 27, Sept. 25, and Nov. 5. If anyone knows anything about these crimes, please contact me at either store, by phone at 865-584-7464 or 865-539-6040, or send an email to don(at)crowncleaners(dot)com.


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