Mom and pop Eagle Rock diner ransacked in smash-and-grab burglary

An Eagle Rock diner was ransacked in a smash-and-grab burglary Wednesday morning.

It happened at around 2:30 AM at Pete's Blue Chip, a diner that has been a staple in the Eagle Rock community for more than 50 years.

"It's (Pete's Blue Chip) is just part of a big community. If we never had such a cool community, I don't know if we'd be here," said Effie Blahos, the General Manager of the diner.  

Blahos said two thieves parked in the back of the diner, and then broke into the restaurant. Her surveillance cameras captured the incident.

"We have a really good security system. They parked right there (in the parking lot), broke the glass, walked through, cased the front, didn't find anything and then came to the back, and they broke down the office door, and they walked away with our cash drawers and extra money," said Blahos.

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Video showed the thieves pounding on the office door until it came off of the frame. Blahos said the thieves were in and out in less than three minutes.

"It's just disappointing. This is the first time since I've been here in the last 23 years, but I feel like things have been progressing in that direction lately everywhere," Blahos said. "I feel that once the stimulus checks stopped and the extra money stopped and people got in over their heads, I feel like they need to find other means to get their money and I feel like it's just going to get worse. Nowadays, people have lost their morals. Morals are a big factor. They have no faith."

Blahos said police came to investigate following the burglary.

"They did a report right away. They had the fingerprinting people come out, but they were wearing gloves so no fingerprints and detectives will contact us by tomorrow. They have a few other cases going which I get," she said.

Meanwhile, California lawmakers have introduced a bill that aims to target repeat offenders of organized retail crime.

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The bill, AB 1708, will either allow a felony or misdemeanor charge for anyone who has two or more convictions for theft-related offenses. The proposed legislation would also require those with prior petty theft convictions to participate in diversion programs for substance abuse and mental health treatment.

The bill was introduced by California Assemblymembers Al Muratsuchi, Sabrina Cervantes, Bill Essayli, Mike Gipson, Evan Low, Cottie Petrie-Norris, Blanca Rubio, and Carlos Villapudua.

The bill is in response to Proposition 47, a ballot measure passed by California voters in November 2014. The law made some non-violent property crimes, where the value does not exceed $950, into misdemeanors.

"There's a lot of leniency on certain things nowadays, so it probably would be good if they did something like that. Otherwise, I think it'll keep getting worse and worse and worse and then in 10 years, what will we have?" said Blahos.

Blahos repaired the broken glass door, and plans to install more security cameras. The burglary along with repairs cost her a few thousand dollars.