South Lake Tahoe break-in similar to October burglaries |

South Lake Tahoe break-in similar to October burglaries

Isaac Brambila
Broken glass rests on a counter at Wildman’s '50s Drive-In after burglars broke into the business through a window and stole cash Wednesday night or Thursday morning.
Isaac Brambila/Tahoe Daily Tribune |

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — Rami Merrikh thought he was getting satellite TV at his diner, Wildman’s ‘50s Drive-In, Thursday morning. Instead, he got a broken window, cash stolen from his register and a single dollar left in the tip jar.

The break-in at Wildman’s marks the latest of several burglaries with the same modus operandi – a rock thrown through a window or a door forced open and a quick dash for the register. Apart from the similarities, however, the burglaries are not believed to be connected, South Lake Tahoe Police Department (SLTPD) Sgt. Shannon Laney said.

At the Wildman’s burglary, which appears to have occurred sometime between Wednesday night and Thursday morning, the suspects broke through a back window hidden from street view, walked across the kitchen and managed to open the cash register. The register was left on the ground, but the cash was gone.

It is still unclear how much money was taken.

In the area where the window was broken, there were two chunks of asphalt and shards of glass outside.

Inside, on the floor, there were scattered shards of glass, bottles of beverage ingredients and a coffee maker. Nothing else appeared to have been taken.

Merrikh, who has owned the restaurant at that location since July, said he was made aware of the break-in by a satellite TV crew who was there Thursday morning to install the television system. The crew called police when they noticed sings of a break-in.

“Happy three-month anniversary,” Merrikh said as he looked at the broken window.

Police officers arrived at the scene soon after the call was made and conducted an investigation. The officers brought a K-9 unit and dusted the area for prints.

It was not immediately clear if there were any leads.

The burglary at Wildman’s resembles a string of burglaries from roughly three weeks ago.

On the night of Oct. 22 and early morning ours of Oct. 23, SLTPD officers responded to five separate burglaries. Those burglaries were believed to be committed by the same suspects, according to an SLTPD press release.

That night, two men where were seen by Kmart employees as the suspects broke into the Kmart Garden Center near the Y.

Though it has not been established if Thursday’s burglary was connected to the Oct. 22 burglaries, Thursdays’ suspects appear to have entered the business in the same fashion and gone after the same thing – the cash register.

The places burglarized during the October night were all near the Y and consisted of the Kmart Garden Center, Ponderosa Glass, a Barton Memorial Hospital building, Enchanted Florist and Auto Bazaar.

Merrikh’s wife, Patricia Merrikh, said that prior to owning the Wildman’s ‘50s Drive-In, they owned a restaurant for nearly 10 years at Ski Run Marina. She said Thursday was the first time they have experienced a break-in.

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