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‘Building a stronger fortress’: Bosco’s rebuilds, again, after series of break-ins

Police said they took a combined 143 reports of Spenard burglaries, robberies in 2020
A side entrance at Bosco's awaits full repair after a burglary early Thursday morning.
A side entrance at Bosco's awaits full repair after a burglary early Thursday morning.(KTUU)
Published: Jan. 30, 2021 at 7:04 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A string of break-ins has hit a Spenard business hard, with yet another burglary destroying a second entrance at Bosco’s World Headquarters, a popular place often full of people looking for their next comic books, cards and games.

On Thursday morning, a pair of thieves opened the store for themselves with a truck instead of keys at close to one in the morning. The incident marks the fourth in the span of about six months – since July, there have been three burglaries and one attempted – and isn’t the first involving a drive-through via one of the store’s facades.

According to Bosco’s owner John Weddleton, who is also a member of the Anchorage Assembly, each incident has brought a lesson learned and a renewed effort to guard the store’s goods.

“Normal glass storefront, a metal grid up on it, but we also had a gate that collapses during the day,” he said of the area broken through on Thursday. “And it opens and locks in four places. It was tough. They didn’t really even break that. They took down the entire front, pretty much, so we had a pretty solid setup here.”

There’s a new plan in the works, though, Weddleton said. Among the new security measures – in addition to those implemented since the break-ins during 2020 – is a pair of rolling, overhead doors, though he isn’t thrilled about being forced to take the next step.

“I think they’ll work,” Weddleton said of the new measures. “They’re pretty effective, but they look bad. The store will look closed down, and it’s not good for one store to do that, but if we end up with a bunch along Spenard Road? It’ll just look so gloomy.”

On the bright side, this incident didn’t leave Bosco’s out much product, according to Weddleton, who said the pair who broke in appeared confused about what to do once they made it into the store. Among the few items they took were an empty cash register till, several cheap mock-up swords, and a deck of Yu-Gi-Oh cards.

“We were fortunate,” he said. “They didn’t steal a lot of stuff. They destroyed a lot, but didn’t leave with much product.

“And the community at Bosco’s, they’re frustrated,” he continued. “They want to help out, pitch in to repair, so that makes us feel really good.”

While each incident has brought disappointment, more defense is on its way.

“We have lots of work to do,” he said. “Got to get the storefront repaired. We have been consistently hardening it as we replace things – stronger glass, stronger frames – so as these things happen, we’re reacting by building a stronger fortress.”

In response to a request for further comment, beyond details of the burglary call, Anchorage police said Friday that they couldn’t provide any other details of the Thursday morning burglary at Bosco’s, citing the ongoing investigations into the incident. They did not that no arrests had been made as of Friday evening.

Before the break-ins at Bosco’s, including the four incidents since last summer, there were maybe half a dozen over the course of several decades, Weddleton said.

His business, however, is certainly not the only one that’s had this kind of trouble.

Crime numbers for the last quarter of 2020 and the first month or so of 2021 weren’t available as of Thursday, the Anchorage Police Department said, but crime in Anchorage appears to be down for 2020 based off the first three quarters of available data.

“Anchorage has mostly seen downward trending numbers throughout most of the year,” said APD Chief Justin Doll in a recent interview, “for property crime and violent crime, which is interesting, because most cities have seen major increases, especially with violent crime.”

When it comes to Spenard specifically, though, it’s unclear what trends may emerge for the year, but that beat – the municipal designation for the Spenard area, in which Bosco’s is located – saw 117 commercial and residential burglary reports over the course of 2020. Those include thefts committed inside structures that can be secured and don’t include vehicles.

There were also 26 robbery reports throughout the year specifically in the Spenard beat, police said, adding that new data for the end of 2020 should be available by early March.

APD Burglary Sergeant Tadd McCauley added in a prepared statement sent via email that it’s important for community members to remain vigilant, lock their doors and always watch out for suspicious individuals in their neighborhoods. Having a neighbor, friend or family member check on residences or shops if you’re gone for an extended amount of time is also a good idea.

“If you do experience a break-in, and record it on a surveillance camera, it’s a good idea to turn it in to officers to help your case prior to posting it on social media,” he noted. “Posting it to the public is a double-edged sword, as it can be both helpful and detrimental to a case... [and] could also heighten the perpetrators’ awareness, show details important to the investigation that they might not have been aware of and also hinder efforts to recover stolen property.”

McCauley said tips from the public, though, can “greatly help an investigation in identifying potential suspects,” and getting items recovered. To report thefts and other related crimes in your area, you can call APD directly or visit the municipal police department website to file reports. You may also call (907) 561-STOP to report anonymously to Anchorage Crime Stoppers.

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