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Commercial break-ins are a hazard of doing business -- even in Inner Southeast, where the crime rate is lower than elsewhere in Portland

RITA A. LEONARD - Milla Woller, owner of Buttercraft on Milwaukie Avenue in Westmoreland, discussed with customers an early morning break-in on May 17.   Business burglaries have been an intermittent problem in Inner Southeast Portland for quite some time; when one burglar is caught and jailed, it appears that sooner or later another will appear.

The latest to experience a break-in was Westmoreland's "Buttercraft", at 6664 S.E. Milwaukie Avenue, a block north of the Moreland Theater. The smash-and-grab theft early on Wednesday, May 17, was witnessed by a passer-by, who reported the crime to Portland Police. Officers arrived to assist with boarding up the broken front door, and they left a message on the business phone.

Milla Woller, owner of Buttercraft, told THE BEE that the thief broke the glass front door and was in and out in seconds – making off with a tip jar and a cash drawer from behind the counter. "This was our first break-in," said Woller ruefully. "I guess I'll be getting a security camera. The witness said the thief was wearing something dark and hooded. I suspect he went North on Milwaukie Avenue, since later in the day, a man found one of my checks on the sidewalk in that direction, and returned it to me."

Woller added, "I understand there was a similar break-in recently at Opa Pizzaria in Sellwood. I suspect the thief used some sort of crowbar here, since there are some marks left on my front counter. However, my customers have been sympathetic and have been coming in as usual." Officers observe that a positive attitude helps, along with reasonable security measures.

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