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Restaurant burglarized three times in 10 days

By Asia Wilson

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    ATLANTA (WANF) — A brazen thief has been caught on surveillance video cameras, breaking into Hotto Hotto Ramen and Teppanyaki in the Peoplestown Neighborhood of Southeast Atlanta.

We’re told he took around $1,500 worth of alcohol not once, but three times within a 10-day timeframe.

Owner, Angelo Wong told Atlanta News First the first burglary happened on January 14th.

“The first time he came in, he knew the code,” Wong said. “Only the people who know the codes are employees and some vendors. So, he came in, he knew the code accessed the key from the lockbox. Used that key to enter through that door. When he did come in, he came straight into the bar area. Looked around, grabbed whatever bottles he could, put them in his pocket, and walked out,” Wong said.

Wong said the suspect was wearing a mask and a hoodie.

“He had shorts on, so he had exposed a tattoo. A large tattoo on his right leg,” Wong said.

Wong said the second burglary occurred on January 19th. He said that the burglary happened at 8:30 a.m.

“The second time he came in, the same thing, knew the new code gained access to the key, entered the premises with the key, left the key on the counter as he came in,” Wong said. “This time he came in with a bag, loaded up even more by items, and ran off,” he said.

Wong said he believes this could be an inside job since they changed the code to the lockbox a few times.

“There’s only five individuals that knew the code and because the code was changed, and he used the new code, to gain access to the key, entering the premises through that, now we’ve started to have strong suspicions that it might be an inside job. One of our employees is telling someone the code, and that’s really heartbreaking to find out,” Wong said.

“Very disappointing to know that it’s almost definitely someone who works here, is giving him the code for this and hopefully accidental,” said Ian Palmatier, Front of House Manager at Hotto Hotto Ramen & Teppanyaki. “I’d hate to think someone who works here is setting us up,” he said.

Wong said the last break-in was on January 24th. He said that time, they placed an alarm system on the building, but the suspect came back again. He came with a suitcase to load up.

“When he came in this time, he came in at 3:30 in the morning which is Tuesday morning–this is the third break-in, he did not know the code. He was fumbling with it trying to figure it out. Trying to open it. He could not gain access to it. He left. Came back 10…15 minutes later with a screwdriver pried the lockbox off of the wall, and then went off camera. Came back another 20 minutes later and got the key, so he must have broken the lockbox open, got the key, came in, the alarm sounded,” Wong said.

“This time he took his hoodie and his mask off. So, you can see his face. We believe it’s the same suspect because of his body frame and the way he walked,” Wong said.

The owner said they are angry and frustrated.

“It’s heartbreaking people have to stoop to this level to come in stealing alcohol. It’s painful because we’re a small mom-and-pop shop. My wife and I are the sole proprietors-owners of Hotto Hotto, and for an individual to come in and just steal from us, it hurts,” Wong said.

They said this is all happening during their slow season.

“Then, there’s a threat of a recession in 2023. So, business is a little slower, and now we’ve got to deal with getting cost stolen from us,” Wong said.

“It’s the slowest part of the year for us, so stop it,” Palmatier.

Now they hope someone who knows the suspect will come forward.

“If anyone has any idea who the suspect might be, to come forth to help us,” Wong said.

If you have any information, contact Atlanta Police.

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