A string of burglaries in New Orleans’s Bywater neighborhood has struck at least five bars and restaurants located within blocks of each other, the Times-Picayune/New Orleans Advocate reports. Elizabeth’s, Vaughan’s Lounge, Parleaux Beer Lab, BJ’s Lounge, and The Joint have all reported being robbed in the last two weeks, according to the New Orleans Police Department.
The first reported burglary was at Elizabeth’s, a longtime Chartres Street staple for New Orleans brunch food, on October 15, according to the newspaper. On October 17, Parleaux Beer Lab reported missing money, followed by barbecue restaurant The Joint on October 20. Two beloved neighborhood dive bars and live music venues, Vaughan’s Lounge and BJ’s Lounge, located just a block away from each other, were both burglarized in the early morning hours of Tuesday, October 24, according to BJ’s. All five are small, longtime neighborhood businesses that handle a lot of cash transactions — Vaughan’s and BJ’s are cash-only. The police say it’s unclear if some or all of the burglaries are related.
BJ’s announced the break-in on Instagram, saying that perpetrators forced entry through an A/C unit and were able to get into a safe in the office, which was holding more cash than usual — $6500. BJ’s proprietor Ryan Scully told the newspaper the bar was set to get a new security system later this week.
“We ask that you have patience with us as we work our way out of this hole and encourage all businesses to double up on security — these fuckers were casing us and knew way too much,” Scully wrote on Instagram. “Find your weak spots and strengthen them — it’s rough out there,” the post continued. Jenny Breen, who owns The Joint with her husband Pete Breen, commented that it was “probably the same people that got us Thursday night,” and Petite Clouet Cafe, a Bywater coffee shop about ten blocks away, commented that it was also “hit” a few weeks ago.
BJ’s created a GoFundMe yesterday, saying “We know we could have done better to secure the funds and that we shouldn’t have kept that much on hand,” but that it wants to upgrade its security system immediately. It has already raised $5,250 of its $6,500 goal.
This post will be updated with more information and fundraising as it becomes available.