BY SHERI TRUSTY
On Jan. 19, Amanda Cooper arrived for her shift at Rich’s Drive Thru in Port Clinton and discovered a shattered glass door. The weather had been bitter cold, and she assumed the damage was weather related. Then she walked inside the store and realized a theft had occurred.
“I came in and a couple of doors were open, and I saw that the safe had been hit,” Cooper said.
Cooper, a store manager, called the police, who reviewed camera footage that revealed two suspects unsuccessfully attempting to open the store’s safe. Police believe the same two suspects were involved in burglaries at Mutach’s Market in Danbury and Harney’s Market in Sandusky.
“When you look at the video, you can see they were going after the safe,” Cooper said. “We were very fortunate. It could have been much worse. No one was hurt – no customers, no employees, no vendors.”
The suspects may have left without the contents of the safe, but they left behind much damage – both to the building and to the people who work and shop there.
“It’s made me aware of my surroundings more,” Cooper said. “And it made the community angry that an outsider would come in here and do this.”
While a theft can sometimes hurt a business as customers’ fears keep them away, Rich’s Drive Thru got stronger in the wake of the burglary.
“People are coming in more to support us. People are looking out for us more,” Cooper said. “We’re here for the neighborhood, and the neighborhood is here for us.”
Rich’s Drive Thru was founded in 1970, and today, it is a third-generation business owned by Rich and Diane Kokinda, Lori Kokinda and Kim and Dale Trent. Rich, Lori and Kim are the children of the original owners.
“The biggest thing is that no one was hurt. Amanda was so close to running into them,” Lori said.
Rich said he has faith the police will catch the suspects.
“The good thing is, there are three police departments looking for them. That will be a big help,” he said.
While they await news of an arrest, Port Clinton residents are surrounding the shop with their words and their wallets.
“The community has been outstanding. They’ve been so supportive,” Rich said. “At the end of the day, this community looks out for itself.”