Thief breaks in through liquor store wall, steals registers

A thief caused extensive damage during a March 16 break-in at JT's Liquor in northeast Wichita.
A thief caused extensive damage during a March 16 break-in at JT's Liquor in northeast Wichita.(Matt Jabara, owner of JT's Liquor)
Published: Mar. 21, 2023 at 7:38 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - A northeast Wichita liquor store suffers extensive damage after a thief broke into the business in an unusual and especially destructive way. It happened early Thursday morning at JT’s Liquor near 37th Street North and Woodlawn.

Rather than a typical burglary in which a thief might smash a front door with a crowbar, the man seen on surveillance video early Thursday morning at JT’s Liquor broke in through a different way.

Early Thursday morning, JT’s Liquor Store Owner Matt Jabara received an alert that a motion sensor inside his store went off.

“They tell me that one sensor had gone off. Generally, if it was one sensor, we tell them to disregard,” Jabara said. “I told them I was on my way instead. I tried to pull the cameras up on my phone and the cameras wouldn’t pull up.”

Jabara drove around the store inspecting, then walked inside. He didn’t find any liquor stolen, but at the front counter, he noticed two cash registers missing.

“I get ready to walk towards the back door again and I felt a cold breeze,” Jabara said. “I turn on the light. I look down and saw the big hole where the guy came in through the wall.”

Jabara said the thief broke glass in a vacant unit next door, then punched two massive holes in the wall, ripping down wires, likely thinking they were tied to the liquor store’s security camera system. He was able to crawl in a storage room though the second hole, disconnecting the store’s WI-FI and what he likely thought were more camera wires along the way.

The thief got away with about $400 from the cash registers. While Jabara is no stranger to his business being vandalized, he said what happened with the early-morning break-in was different.

“I had never seen anything like it,” Jabara said. “The officer that was walking around with me had never seen anything like it. We go back and watch the video; instead of yanking wires, he’s politely unplugging wires.”

Jabara said he’s stepped up surveillance at his business, adding more cameras and motion sensors.

“It’s not strictly the monetary that hurts so much. You almost feel violated to have somebody spend an hour and a half, bust through your wall and tear up wo cash registers and leave like it was no big deal,” Jabara said. “Your faith in humanity drops a bit.”

In addition to the $400 taken from the registers, Jabara said the entire repair bill, including damage to wiring and sheetrock, will cost about $2,500 to $3,200.

When Jabara arrived at his store early Thursday morning, he said he looked at the time stamps on his camera footage and learned the he missed the thief by two to three minutes. Anyone with information on the crime should call Crime Stoppers at 316-267-2111.