Caught on camera: Thieves break into Charlotte jewelry store amid protests

Caught on camera: Thieves break into Charlotte jewelry store amid protests

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Friday marks one week since protests first started in Charlotte.

While the majority of demonstrations have been peaceful, there were nights of looting and vandalism in uptown Charlotte.

This week, several local business owners are left wondering how they will ever reopen after the looting.

As demonstrators in Charlotte gathered last Saturday evening to protest the death of George Floyd, James Mack’s Epic Times Jewelry business was about to be targeted.

Mack’s phone started ringing at 1:30 a.m., indicating an intrusion alarm.

He couldn’t believe what he was seeing on the security cameras.

“My phone automatically started showing me the video of people entering the store and doing the looting," Mack said.

The front door of the jewelry store was shattered within minutes. Dozens of thieves cleaned out a business that took Mack years to build.

“When you’re watching someone take your possessions and break into your establishment and you cannot do anything about it, you don’t see any police anywhere around, it’s just like a free for all," Mack said. "That is a devastating feeling.”

Mack could do nothing but sit and watch as the crowd smashed jewelry counters with their elbows, accounting for $20,000 worth of damage and stolen jewelry, and then ran out of the front door.

This is the second time Mack’s business has been vandalized. In 2016, it was a protest that turned into a riot over the shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott.

“The 2016 incident was unfortunate," Mack said. "We did receive some damage and that’s the reason why we put the black-owned business sign in the window in hopes that that wouldn’t happen again.

"I love to see protests, I love to see people demonstrating and voicing their opinion, I just hate to see when we cause damage to small businesses.”

This damage to his small businesses occurred right in the middle of a pandemic - a pandemic that had already financially devastated Mack’s business.

“Already dealing with the COVID, we just opened last week from being closed for a month and a half,” Mack said.

As Mack tries to put the pieces of his business back together, he said the future of this small business, like many others, will be determined by his insurance provider, who due to COVID-19, has not even been able to look at the damage.

“A lot of small businesses have what’s called a ‘BOP’ policy, which is an acronym for a business owner’s policy and that covers property damage, it covers liability risks," said Michael Barry, from the Insurance Information Institute,

An adjuster will receive the initial report, assess the damage and determine if Mack has to pay an out of pocket deductible before any funds are dispersed.

Due to COVID -19, Mack is concerned that it could take months, so friends and family have set up a go fund me account to survive.

“You can’t understand how long it’s going to take to bring or to attract business back to this brick and mortar," Mack said.

If you would like to help out this small business, click here.

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