Nikiski resident Felix Martinez received an early morning wake up call Sunday from Alaska State Troopers who notified him that his business, M&M Supermarket on the Kenai Spur Highway in Nikiski, had been burglarized.
The break-in occurred before the store opened Sunday at about 6 a.m. Martinez said burglars broke into the store, tied chains around an Automatic Teller Machine and used a truck to drag it outside. The ATM machine was left mangled, evidence that the thieves attempted to pry it open, he said.
Martinez said video surveillance shows after the alarm went off; the suspects panicked and took off. He said the truck was set on fire a mile down the road.
Troopers spokesperson Megan Peters said the truck was believed to be stolen but could not confirm where or who it belonged to. The case is under investigation and troopers are reviewing video footage of the break-in. No suspect or suspects have been identified, she said.
It is unclear if any money was stolen from the ATM, but Martinez estimates the damage to his business to be about $15,000. He said a couple local residents helped board up the broken windows and the door had to be bent back in shape so the door could be closed up to set the alarm.
Martinez, who was in Anchorage visiting family at the time, said he rarely ever leaves town. He said he believes the culprits planned the heist and wondered if word got out that he went out of town.
“In a way this serves as a wake up call to ramp up security in our community,” he said. “The neighborhood watch will gather and secure the area. The response time for troopers to get here from Soldotna has made crime a problem here.”
The break-in is similar to an incident that occurred at the nearby Hunger Hut Bar and Liquor Store in Nikiski where several thousand dollars worth of damage was reported on June 18. A trooper investigation determined a 17-year-old juvenile male was responsible. He was arrested on burglary, criminal mischief and theft and charges and remanded to the Kenai Peninsula Youth Facility.
Martinez said the thieves have no regard for personal property. He said these types of crimes show the need for a trooper post or expanded police coverage in Nikiski.
“(These kids) put ideas together and thought they could get away with it,” he said. “There are enough clues and this is a small enough community that something will pop up. If we had more patrols criminals would have less success and would make it harder for them.”
Reach Dan Balmer at firstname.lastname@example.org.