Sense of security stolen
Burglary of Gerster Jewelers last year has not been solved
by Jennifer Chick
It’s been almost a year since burglars broke into Gerster Jewelers in Farmington, smashing and stealing merchandise while shattering a sense of security in the community.
“It was a sad day for Farmington, Lakeville, Rosemount, Hampton, everyone, because it entirely changed your way of thinking,” said Jim Gerster Jr., owner of the 92-year-old family-owned jewelry store. “Farmington has always been a little town hid off of 35W, and we’ve never had any crime of any kind. Now the bad guys just found a whole new niche. The bad guys are just bold and now they’ve found us. They’ve found Mayberry and they took it away from us.”
On Thursday, April 19, 2012, a group of three or four individuals broke through the front door of Gerster Jewelers at 10:23 p.m., smashing cases and stealing whatever merchandise they could grab.
The burglary appeared to be connected to a string of recent robberies around the metro area. Gerster said no one has ever been arrested for the crimes even though there has been plenty of surveillance footage from the crimes.
The crew was in and out in about a minute, and what Gerster said made it more remarkable was that they did it just down the street from a bar that was open at the time.
When Gerster got the call that an alarm had gone off at his shop, he took his time going down to the scene, thinking it was a false alarm as has been the case before with his heat-sensitive system.
He was shocked to find the destruction at the shop.
“Of course, it’s about money, but what they are doing with the money, we don’t know for sure,” said Sgt. Lee Hollatz in charge of investigations for the Farmington Police Department.
The police department is continuing to investigate the incident, teaming up with many other agencies in the area, but he confirms that no arrests have been made.
What was even worse than the damage at the jewelry store, Gerster said, was the stolen sense of security.
He grew up in Farmington, riding his bike around the town all day long, often not returning home until supper time. Now, as a grown man, he worries about staying alone in his business late at night.
Instead of staying late to work on a project or paperwork, he said he’ll come in on a Sunday instead. He won’t leave an unfinished item out of the safe, intending to come in the next day to work on it. It takes more time to close up for the day as he takes those extra precautions he never thought of before the burglary.
“It’s a little bit of an inconvenience, but you don’t want to be stupid,” Gerster said.
He also thinks the crime has affected thousands of people’s perceptions, making the community a little less secure.
Gerster Jewelers will celebrate its 93rd anniversary in April. The store was started by Gerster’s grandfather Ernie Gerster. Gerster took over the store from his father, Jim. Last year’s burglary was a first in the store’s 92-year history.
“It’s just a weird, sad time out there,” he said. “I wish it wasn’t because I liked Mayberry.”