EAST COUNTY — Splinters of glass on the floor at Johnson PhotoImaging serve as reminders of what may be the worst week of Michael Arbor’s career.
On Jan. 9, he came in to work to find the store burglarized for the second time in just three days, and the fourth time since late May.
Arbor, Johnson’s general manager, shrugged at the memory.
“You’ve got to move on or give up,” he said, adding the remaining pieces of glass are so small they can no longer be cleaned up with a mop or broom. “It’s just aggravating (to find the pieces of glass, still).”
Manatee County Sheriff’s Office reports state that burglars broke into Johnson PhotoImaging, located at 6709 State Road 70 E., Bradenton, at 3:13 a.m. Jan. 6 and at 4:10 a.m. Jan. 9. Reports for both incidents offer few details — only that unknown persons broke into the business and stole photography equipment.
Security cameras installed at the store after the burglary in October did not provide enough detail to identify any suspects.
“It was devastating,” Arbor said of walking in to find Johnson’s burglarized Jan. 9. “We’ve worked really hard to turn things around in a tough economy. It just hurts.”
As the company has with every burglary to date, Johnson PhotoImaging is increasing security measures, and now is moving forward with changes it had hoped to avoid — ones that will affect the look of the building. But, the changes are necessary, Arbor said, declining to offer specific details about the improvements.
“We’ve licked our wounds and we’re ready to do business again,” Arbor said. “We’re moving forward. We’re not giving up. We are not beaten.”
The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate the incidents, but does not have any firm leads.
“We are working diligently,” Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Dave Bristow said. “We’re investigating (these incidents) like they’re related, but you never know.
“We have had instances like this before (where one place was burglarized multiple times), but this is really unique,” he said. “We’re doing everything we can to catch the person who did it, short of putting someone (a deputy) in the store 24/7.”
Arbor said employee morale at Johnson is back to normal, and the business is eager to move forward and assist customers with their photography needs.
The company is planning to offer community events, including a photography workshop with well-known nature photographer George Lepp in March, over the coming year.
“We’re ready to serve everyone’s needs,” Arbor said. “Our thanks go out to the community for its continued support.”
Anyone with information about the burglaries should contact the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office at 747-3011 or Crime Stoppers at 1-866-634-8477.
Johnson Photo-Imaging has been burglarized four times since May.
Incident reports state incidents occurred:
May 26, 2013: Unknown persons broke in and stole more than $100,000 in cameras and camera lenses in less than seven minutes.
Oct. 13, 2013: Two unknown persons broke in and stole $32,000 worth of merchandise.
Jan. 6, 2014: Unknown person(s) broke in and stole photography equipment.
Jan. 9, 2014: Three unknown males broke in and stole several pieces of photography equipment.
Staff Writer Josh Siegel contributed to this report.
Contact Pam Eubanks at [email protected].