Not much was taken from Lost Fox across from St. Paul’s Union Depot, but windows were broken.
A string of burglaries at a downtown St. Paul coffee shop and restaurant has been discouraging for the owners, but they’ve been buoyed by the outpouring of community support they’ve received.
The latest incident — and the one that caused the most damage — happened early Friday at Lost Fox in Lowertown. The business’s motion detector went off about 4:30 a.m. Large windows to the building had been shattered, but not much was taken, said Annie Rose, who owns Lost Fox with her husband.
After Friday’s break-in on Fourth Street, across from Union Depot and its Green Line light-rail station, a Lost Fox Facebook post displayed photos of the damage and read, “I am so tired. Come have a coffee this weekend so we can pay our deductible. We could probably use some words of encouragement.”
The support has “been amazing,” Rose said Monday. “There’s been a line out the door. … We’ve had people come in to get a coffee, large online orders for takeout food. We’ve had people come in to give us a hug, tell us they want us here.”
No one was under arrest as of Monday afternoon in the burglary. Officers have been making more frequent trips through the area, on alert for suspicious activity, said Sgt. Mike Ernster, a St. Paul police spokesman.
There have been 15 burglaries reported in Lowertown this year, compared with 12 at the same time last year and 16 at this time in 2021, according to police statistics. Police have received 29 reports of crimes against people in Lowertown, the same number as this time last year, compared with 12 in 2021.
Across St. Paul, burglaries have been trending down — there have been 353 reported this year vs. 445 last year and 516 at the same time in 2021. Police have received 1,304 crimes against people reports this year vs. 1,370 last year and 1,367 in 2021.
There wasn’t much for thieves to take in the Lost Fox burglary, Rose said. They stole quarters — “they probably left with a total of $17 in coins” and broke some liquor bottles. The Urban Wok restaurant next to Lost Fox also fell victim to the break-in.
On a previous night earlier this year, a person or people got into the Lost Fox through a door, but the alarm system went off and the suspects left, Rose said. They came back about an hour later and the alarm system also scared them away. Late last year, the business was entered by a door that wasn’t properly locked. Items were stolen in both of the earlier instances, Rose said.
“Those were more crimes of circumstance,” Rose said. “This time was more like, ‘We’re going in, we’re hitting this place.’”
Lost Fox increased security measures previously and they’re doing it again, Rose said Monday.
Michael and Annie Rose opened Lost Fox last April. They’ve been slowly ramping up the business — they’re hiring more for summer, building a garden wall for their patio and expanding their menu a bit.
“Lowertown is really unique in that it has a community that lives in it that’s really focused on it,” Rose said. With all the community support and attention on what happened at Lost Fox, she hopes it brings about more community discussions about what’s needed for the neighborhood.
Joe Spencer, St. Paul Downtown Alliance president, said crime statistics haven’t shown “a big swing one way or the other,” but he said he knows it “will continue to be a high priority for all the downtown businesses to find a way to improve public safety outcomes.”
They’ve had “strong participation” among downtown buildings in a safety communications network that links together private security with police and social service providers, a network of cameras and a “street team” of “safety ambassadors and cleaning ambassadors.”
The downtown improvement district doesn’t include Lowertown because state law doesn’t allow such districts to include residential areas, but they’ve working in partnership with other cities to try to change that law, Spencer said.
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