Thieves Broke in and Stole $100,000 from Morris Heights Hispanic Bodega Register and Safe

Thieves steal $100,000 from Bronx Hispanic bodega, raising concern over surge in NYC small business robberies. Leaders urge legislative action.

Thieves broke into Los Castillo’s Mini Market, a Hispanic bodega in the Bronx, early Monday morning and stole $100,000 in cash, according to the NYPD. The suspects have not been caught. Surveillance video shows the thieves stealthily breaking in, wearing masks and using flashlights, before taking cash from the register and safe.

The bodega owner, Carlos Castillo, was too distraught to speak about the robbery. Community leaders sympathized with the family-owned business and were concerned about rising burglaries targeting small shops across New York City.

Timeline

Early Monday morning, thieves broke into Los Castillo’s Mini Market in Morris Heights, Bronx. They pried open the back steel door with a crowbar.

Some security cameras were damaged. The thieves cut Wi-Fi wiring to prevent alerts to the police. Cash was stolen from the register and safe, totaling $100,000.

The robbery was discovered when the owner, Carlos Castillo, arrived for work Monday.

Reaction

“The winemaker, of course, is devastated economically, socially, mentally. He lost $100,000,” said Fernando Mateo, founder and spokesman for United Bodegas of America (UBA). “I know him, his father, and his family, hard-working people,” said Radhames Rodriguez, president of UBA. “It’s very sad. I own a grocery store. I’ve worked for 35 years, and we know how hard it is to earn money.”

Burglaries are up 25% this year in the precinct where the bodega is located.

“Warehouse owners are also threatened that people will follow them into their homes and rob them, just like in the 1990s,” Mateo said.

Patterns of Crime Targeting NYC Small Businesses

There has been a wave of robberies and violence targeting New York City small businesses:

  • In recent months, 93% of the city’s 3,000 supermarkets have been hit by thieves almost daily.
  • Pharmacy robberies statewide increased by 620% in the last two years.
  • Shoplifting at NYC retail stores rose 81% in the first quarter of 2023. Workers and owners are often attacked.
  • Many owners close earlier and lock up merchandise in response to the robberies.
  • In December, a laundromat owner was fatally shot during a robbery. Days later, a man was beaten in a supermarket aisle.
  • In polls, New Yorkers rank crime as their top concern. 70% fear becoming a victim.

The community continues calls for new legislation to prosecute and jail shoplifters who target workers. Leaders urge action to address the crisis of robberies devastating small businesses across the city.