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Nonprofit thrift store, that improves lives of animals, hit with three burglaries within a month

LYNNWOOD—Bella’s Voice in Lynnwood City Center, a nonprofit thrift store which donates 100% of its sales to local food banks and animal nonprofits focused on animal welfare, was broken into last night, Wednesday, February 21, by two masked individuals resulting in $500 in damages and hundreds more in stolen product.

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The broken door from the incident at Bella’s Voice in Lynnwood City Center. SOURCE: Bella’s Voice Facebook Page.

The break in was just one of three the charitable thrift store has experienced in February leaving staff feeling helpless, frustrated, and overwhelmed.

In addition to frequent burglaries, the store experiences a tremendous amount of theft, their vehicles are sometimes siphoned for gas, trash bins are set on fire, and a van used to drop off donations was stolen from the parking lot last Christmas Day.

“It’s just frustrating,” Camille Ovena, Manager of Bella’s Voice in Lynnwood told the Lynnwood Times. “Every day we go to work we don’t know what we’re going to walk into.”

Bella’s Voice was first broken into this month on the night of Monday, February 12, when two males, obscured in masks and all black clothing, broke the back door of the store, and climbed through stealing 10 to 15 electronic items. The whole incident took about 15-minutes, Ovena told the Lynnwood Times.

The dollar amount of the items stolen is hard to say, Ovena said explaining that when items get donated, they’re separated into bins depending on price.

“It was hard to get a price range because I wasn’t sure what was in there, the items hadn’t been processed yet,” said Ovena. “We don’t make any money, one hundred percent of our proceed go towards animal rescue or our food bank, it’s just really frustrating when we have to replace a catalytic converter, or a laptop, or spend all this money that I don’t we should be having to spend when it should be going to the animals. It’s just really not fair to the animals.”

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Jordan and Cami will be going live on Facebook Friday, February 23, 2024, at 9am to share some big news. SOURCE: Bella’s Voice

The second occurrence took place just six days later, on Sunday, February 18, when a man and a woman walked by with a crowbar and unlatched the damaged door from the previous burglary—still boarded up while the store was finalizing its claim with the insurance company. This incident involved a man and a woman who, upon breaking and entering, “didn’t actually steal anything and hung out for a while,” Ovena said, until the Lynnwood Police responded to the alarm and arrested them. As of yesterday, the LPD has confirmed the suspects are still in jail.

Ovena’s account of this incident was based on security camera footage so she couldn’t say for sure whether the couple was influenced by drugs, but she did inform the Lynnwood Times that she witnesses several individuals in the area under the influence.

Though Bella’s Voice’s insurance company has not confirmed whether the price of damages will be fully covered or not, even if they do, each insurance claim cost the establishment a $500 deductible, she said, which is money they can’t get back.

The third, and most recent occurrence, took place Wednesday night around 11 p.m. when a white Toyota pickup truck pulled up and one male, again obscured by a mask and wearing all black, broke a window near the newly repaired back door, while another individual waited in the vehicle. The two fled the scene after breaking the window but, about six hours later, at approximately 4:45 a.m., an individual walked through the broken window and, once more, stole a bin filled with donated electrics equipment as well as a store laptop used to price items (costing $500).

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The white Toyota pickup truck that rammed into Bella’s Voice in Lynnwood City Center. SOURCE: Bella’s Voice Facebook Page.

“I think the second occurrence was more of a convenience, like maybe they didn’t know what they were doing but the first and the third incident were very similar – they both wore the same masks and the guy that walked in through the broken window knew exactly where he was going, it wasn’t like he was just walking by,” Ovena told the Lynnwood Times.

The entire incident was over in about 45 seconds. Ovena said the Lynnwood Police Department responded in about three minutes from when she reported the crime.

“We have to call the police a lot here because we just get a lot of theft in general, so we work pretty close with the Lynnwood Police Department,” said Ovena. “Their response times are pretty good unfortunately these people are just fast.”

Ovena has requested the Lynnwood Police Department increase their nightly patrol of the area several time and was told by officers that they had but she suspects a shortage in staffing and other burglary incidents deter from patrolling “as much as [she] would like.”

“I know there’s a lot of burglaries happening all over Lynnwood, so they’re probably stretched thin,” said Ovena.

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Lynnwood Police responding to the incident at Bella’s Voice in Lynnwood City Center. SOURCE: Bella’s Voice Facebook Page.

The thrift store already has 16 security cameras and is working with their alarm system company to bolster their preventative measures. The store is also working on getting bars installed on the doors to deter future thieves from breaking the glass. Ovena mentioned that the cost of a security guard is simply out of the question, especially considering their recent losses.

Bella’s Voice has set up a fundraiser to raise the cost of the $1,500 needed to repair the back door and glass window and is always asking the community for more donations. Interested donors can either donate money for repair costs, through the store’s Facebook page or Instagram, or drop off items at the store in Lynnwood.

“We don’t really accept cash donations all that often, I think it’s easier for people who don’t have a lot of money to donate stuff they have laying around the house,” said Ovena.

The current site of Bella’s Voice Lynnwood is set to be demolished to make way for a new apartment complex in the coming years—the latest development in the city’s attempt to redevelop the area surrounding the upcoming Light Rail station. The thrift store recently signed a lease to take over the Bartell’s Drugs off Highway 99 and plans to relocate within the next six months. The thrift store plans to begin accepting donations for its new location within the next few weeks.

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