On Dec 27 at 12:30 a.m., a thief broke the service window of Old SLO BBQ Co. and reached in to steal the tip jar. This was one of two incidents of theft that morning.
Located in downtown San Luis Obispo, the business experienced multiple incidents of break-ins and thefts this year.
“We’ve been open since 2012 and we’ve never been broken into,” Old SLO BBQ founder Matt Pearce said. “Then, we’ve been broken into twice this year in the last four months. So it’s definitely something that’s a new and frustrating problem.”
This break-in was followed by a second thief, who noticed a broken window and an open door at 4:30 a.m.
“All-in-all they made off with knives, cash, tablets, beer and all our salted caramel brownies (if that’s not a testament to how good those brownies are, we don’t know what is),” Old SLO BBQ said in an Instagram post.
Among the stolen items were proprietary tablets for online ordering services such as DoorDash, ChowNow and WeGoDelivers. Without these tablets, the restaurant has been unable to get business from online orders.
Pearce was out of town for the holidays and received a call from the police at 5 a.m.
“We’re not talking about, even at the end of the day, not more than a thousand dollars of headache — but it’s a thousand dollars,” Pearce said in a phone interview.
Pearce met with San Luis Obispo’s police on Sept. 30 as a board member of the Children’s Museum to discuss the break-ins and crimes that other businesses have experienced. According to Pearce, police said people aren’t being arrested for small, nonviolent crimes. Instead, the most they can do is give citations, which often go ignored.
“There’s nothing much I can do outside of kind of sit back and watch my business get broken into and then know there’s nothing that happened to the criminals who did that,” Pearce said.
Due to the recurring break-ins, Old SLO BBQ had cameras installed and added protective measures to make it harder for thieves to break in and improve the impact that these break-ins have.
“I’m trying to feed my family and keep people employed and provide service to our customers,” Pearce said. “All of that gets impacted when shenanigans like this kind of pester us. There is a natural hard impact for these things regularly happening for business owners.”