Businesses in Toronto's Little Portugal neighbourhood hit with string of break and enters

Business and restaurant owners in Toronto’s Little Portugal neighbourhood are sounding the alarm after more than 20 break and enters were reported at storefronts in the area in the past month.

Pascal Vernhes owns Le Baratin and says his restaurant was hit early Saturday morning.

“I was called by AT&T at exactly 3:35 or 3:40 in the morning. I was told that the alarm went off so I rushed,” Vernhes told CTV News Toronto.

Vernhes says he only lives five minutes from the business located on Dundas Street just west of Dufferin Street and arrived to find police and smashed glass at the scene.

“The guy stole $45 in cash, there was very little change I left, then he went through the back door and left,” Vernhes explained.

Linda Tran is the co-owner of Pho Phuong, a Vietnamese restaurant across the street from Baratin, and says her business was also broken into.

She said the thief, whose image was captured on video, smashed the glass front door, then the glass lobby door before stealing the cash till and leaving the owners with a hefty clean up bill.

“It’s going to cost us $3,000 to $5,000 for two doors and we lost about $1,000,” Tran said.

According to Toronto police in 11 Division, 21 break and enters have been reported in the area in April alone.

That number grows to 1,770 businesses hit city wide since January.

Last year, police said there were a total of 2,550 break and enters at Toronto businesses.

Abra Shiner owns the local bar Swan Dive, and does not count herself as one of the 21 B&E victim’s in April, but she said she feels for her neighbours.

“I got angry and I got sad,’ Shiner told CTV News Toronto. She said she posted a plea to Instagram in support of the affected businesses.

“Man, it is just so disheartening that this is happening, none of us have anything to steal, we’re all struggling. I know these people are poor and desperate, going to this extent, going to these measures, and breaking into places, they have to be desperate. But we are all on the brink of going out of business as it is.”

The provincial government’s public health measures have seen these eateries closed to indoor dining for months, leaving owners to try and make a dollar through take out.

And getting hit with a large repair bill for a break and enter that netted the thief loose change stings, they say.

In a news release issued Monday evening, police said they are investigating the four most recent break and enters in the area and are reviewing the video evidence to determine whether the incidents are linked.