Police say liquor store robberies may be linked

Armed with a crowbar and a couple of trash barrels, two burglars made quick work of breaking into Brenneman’s Retail Liquor in southwest Wichita earlier this week.

“It’s like they had a shopping list,” store owner Mike Brenneman said. “They were in and out in no time at all.”

It’s the latest in a handful of liquor store burglaries in and around Wichita since November that may be connected, police officials say.

“They’re possibly all related,” Sgt. Charles Newman said of a list that includes cases near 53rd and Meridian, 29th and Broadway and Harry and Washington.

But investigators have yet to confirm the connection, he said. The burglars often used a pry tool or a large rock to break glass in the front door and then filled large containers as quickly as they could.

Surveillance footage from Brenneman’s store Monday, the morning of the burglary, shows a light-colored vehicle with a hatchback pulling into the parking lot at 3:39 a.m. Four minutes later, two masked, gloved people approach the store’s glass double doors and force them open with pry tools. Both people drag large plastic trash containers inside.

Over the next two minutes, the pair carefully pluck several glass bottles off the shelves, filling the trash containers. They leave the store.

One burglar returns briefly and grabs two cases of beer.

The vehicle speeds off at 3:46 a.m. – seven minutes after the caper began.

Brenneman said he hopes detectives caught a break with the break-in at his store at 2710 S. Seneca, which is south of Pawnee. One of the burglars tripped after they forced open the front doors with a crowbar.

“He face-planted,” Brenneman said. “He left some blood” behind.

The burglars targeted high-end vodka such as Grey Goose and Ciroc, as well as an eclectic collection of other liquors.

It’s not the first time his store has been burglarized, he said, and it probably won’t be the last.

“It’s aggravating,” Brenneman said of the burglaries. “It’s cost us a lot of money.”

He’s going to put a chain and padlock around the handles of the front doors to slow down any would-be burglars. It won’t be pretty, Brenneman said, but it’ll be effective.

Burglars don’t like having to deal with break-ins that take a lot of time, Newman said.

“Time can turn into time” in jail, he said.

Some area liquor stores have been adding bars to their entry doors or replacing the glass with Plexiglas, Newman said. Both of those features discourage quick entry by burglars.

“They’re making it a lot more difficult and time-consuming” to break in, Newman said. “That’s the issue for most burglars. They want to be in and out and be gone” before law enforcement officers alerted by alarm systems reach the scene.

“If they pull up and see bars” in the doors, “they’re much less likely to hit that place,” he said.

Contributing: Amy Renee Leiker of The Eagle