Oak Park’s Billy Bricks Wood Fired Pizza was broken into shortly after Christmas in the restaurant’s third burglary in about three years. While what was taken in the most recent burglary was of diminutive value, owner Ric Gruber is starting to get both irritated and disappointed.
“It’s not so much what they took but they took people’s peace of mind,” he said.
For the safety of his staff, Gruber has been in close contact with representatives from the company that oversees the restaurant’s security. He also had the restaurant’s locks at 128 N. Oak Park Ave. changed again.
Gruber declined to tell Wednesday Journal exactly what or how much was stolen in the latest burglary, which happened between the evening of Dec. 26 and the following morning. Some cash from the register, Gruber said, was taken and no one was working at the time. The incident was all captured on the restaurant’s security cameras.
“It wasn’t the most devastating blow financially,” he said.
The burglar also made a sandwich, which was a first. No other sandwiches had been made or eaten during the previous two burglaries, which happened during the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020.
“That made it kind of funny,” he said of the sandwich.
What was lost in the burglary was small enough that Gruber, who is recovering from foot surgery, did not feel it necessary to file an insurance claim and have the restaurant’s premiums go up. He also thought it wasn’t worth reporting it to the police.
“Honestly, I’d feel kind of bad having them come out for the small dollar amounts and fill out paperwork for something that I know there’s not going to be detectives working on,” he said. “I probably still should have but I didn’t.”
In all three break ins, different and more creative methods were used to get inside the building and to combat beefed up security measures, according to Gruber.
The sandwich-making burglar was less destructive than the people who broke into the restaurant during lockdown. In those two incidents, both of which Gruber reported to police, the point-of-sale system was damaged because it is connected to the register, which had its cash drawers ripped out.
The point-of-sale system is expensive, he said, and it was difficult to recoup the cost of twice replacing it. Doing so was made even harder since the restaurant was not operating at its full capacity due to COVID-19 safety restrictions.
“That’s basically a month or two, at least a month, that you’re working for free,” said Gruber.
Gruber is grateful that the burglar just took what was needed without causing any further harm and did so without compromising the safety of the restaurant’s staff.
He told Wednesday Journal that he wishes he could say something that would prevent burglars from breaking into people’s homes and businesses, but he doesn’t think it would make a difference.
“There are a whole lot more things that are worse in the world, but to do something along these lines, you have to be in a pretty desperate and pretty sad place,” he said.