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Someone Is Breaking into Restaurants and Cafes on Northeast MLK and North Williams

Purrington’s, Eem, and Memoz have all been recent victims of burglaries

There have been a rash of burglaries around North Williams and NE Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in recent weeks, including recent break-ins at Memoz Dessert Cafe, a family-friendly build-your-own dessert shop on Williams, and Purrington’s Cat Lounge, the recently reopened cat cafe. It’s unclear if it was the same individual, and police have not named any suspects publicly.

A representative from Purrington’s says that a burglar broke into the shop in the early hours of the morning on Sunday, January 12. One of the owners received an alert that an alarm was triggered and the front door shattered. The intruder reportedly ransacked the shop and took off with an envelope of spare keys, but left alcohol, computers, and iPads. The owners have since changed the locks. While there was no security footage, a number of items were pried open, so the owners suspect the burglar used a crowbar.

Memoz was burglarized the day before — Co-owner Aaron Allina says that someone triggered an alarm around 7:45 a.m. on Saturday, January 11. When he checked the security cameras, he didn’t see anything at all, but ten minutes later the alarm company notified him again. This time, he spotted a man attempting to open the cashbox with a crowbar. When that failed to work, he reportedly stole the whole cashbox and left with it and a Grubhub tablet. Apparently, he had pried open a lock box with keys in it for construction workers, and let himself in, then left briefly after the alarm sounded.

Another look at security tapes revealed that the burglar was wearing a tan hoodie, baggy pants, and a backpack, with his face revealed when he first broke in. Allina described him as a taller white man with a goatee or beard. After the alarm sounded he left, only to return about ten minutes later, this time with a greenish mask over his face that resembled a surgical mask or bandana, though Allina says he had a hard time making it out.

Other restaurants on Williams have experienced similar burglaries on a smaller scale. At 1:45 a.m. on Tuesday, January 7, a burglar smashed the front windows of Eem, the popular Thai barbecue restaurant also on Williams. The burglar then stole some liquor bottles and unloaded gift cards, and left.

This has, apparently, been a problem for some months now, as sandwich shop and community space Sister’s Gourmet Deli suffered a robbery in late November 2019. Owner Michaela McVetty reports that at 5:30 a.m. on Monday, November 25, someone pried open the door of the deli, broke in, and broke open the register, stealing around $1,000 of cash that was to be deposited that day. He was dressed in all black with a black hoodie pulled up to hide his face.

Other break ins, many of which were in late 2019, have also been reported. It’s unclear if these burglaries are related, other than the physical proximity of the businesses, though most report the use of a crowbar. These burglaries appear unrelated to the string of armed robberies of North Portland bars in late 2019, as the descriptions of the subjects are different as were their methods, robbing directly from customers and bars with guns, rather than breaking in after hours.

Eater has reached out to shops reporting break-ins, and will update this piece with any further information.

Correction: A previous version of this story referred to Northeast MLK as North MLK. It has since been corrected.


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