Several downtown businesses were hit by thieves this weekend by what one property owner suspects is a repeat offender.
Zoupwerks at Acorn Alley, the Kent Stage, Taco Tonto's and Stifel-Nicolaus Financial were broken into this weekend. Security camera footage at Acorn Alley shows the suspect in the Zoupwerks break-in is a black male with a female accomplice.
Connie Ruffing, co-owner of Zoupwerks, said camera footage shows the male used a screwdriver to pry open the restaurant's front door while the woman served as look-out just after 11 p.m. Friday.
Ruffing said they're offering a $500 reward to anyone with information about the thief, who made off with less than $400.
Ron Burbick, the developer of Acorn Alley, said the man in the footage appears to be the same person who burglarized The Tannery in November. He said metal plates will soon be installed on all the doors at Acorn Alley to stop such further break-ins.
Burbick added that he will have several dozen surveillance cameras installed around the Acorn Alley complex when all the construction work is finished.
"The plates should help tremendously," Ruffing said.
Tom Simpson, owner of the Kent Stage, said the thieves made off with a laptop computer after failing to break through his office door with a pry bar.
"I had to ... rebuild the door," he said.
Asleep at the Wheel and Nitty Gritty Dirt Band had just played a big show at the stage, and Simpson suspects the thieves may have been after the ticket purse.
Kent Police Lt. Bob Treharn said there's no direct evidence linking all the robberies to the same suspect caught on video at Acorn Alley.
"Do I think it's the same guy? Probably, yes," Treharn said. "But there's no direct evidence."
Anyone with information about the break-ins can call Kent Police at 330-673-7732.
Ruffing said she and co-owner Randy Durant are just happy the thieves didn't vandalize the shop.