NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The damage from Hurricane Florence at the University Center Shopping Center in Wilimington, NC is the least of the worries for the owner of Snowden’s Jewelers.
In the middle of the storm, at the height of the terrifying winds and rain, someone broke in and smashed through cases and stole more than $100,000 worth of jewelry.
“They took bridal sets, they took gold chains, and they took some watches from us. We probably took a loss in excess of $100,000, plus the damage. They busted up my cases, they busted up my front door, I walked in and the storm did a whole bunch of damage from roof leaks, but on top of that all of the glass damage that we’re going have to replace. It’s just devastating,” said owner Chris Snowden.
Broken glass, mixed with broken branches, clearly debris from the storm were all caused as Florence ravaged Wilmington. But not all of this is Mother Nature’s fault.
“Right when the eye wall was passing over us, my alarm went off I got a call that my alarm had sounded and they wanted to know if I wanted the police dispatched, but it was 100 mile an hour winds going on, the police weren’t available, and I certainly wasn’t available to leave,” Snowden said.
Left helpless to stop the criminals taking advantage of his store in the middle of the one of the worst natural disasters North Carolina has ever seen, Snowden could only wait as the tempest thrashed. What he found knocked the wind right out him.
“I showed up and my heart just sank, my front door was busted out, several of my showcases were busted and jewelry was taken from it, with everything that was going on, I just found it hard to believe that someone would take advantage of us in that type of a situation,” Snowden said.
The business owner alerted pawn shops who are keeping an eye out for the jewelry that was swiped from his store, but he still can’t figure out why someone would exploit an already desperate situation.
“My father and I started this business 28 years ago. We’ve worked day in and day out in the store every day of the week for the last 28 years,” he said. “You know there’s desperation going on and people are using the excuse of needing necessity, but this isn’t something that someone needs for survival.”
Through the prism of the shards of glass left by the thieves, Snowden is hopeful something will give and that someone will speak up.
Snowden is determined to reopen despite the thousands upon thousands of dollars that were pilfered in the middle of the storm. He says he is providing a $1,000 reward to anyone with information that leads to an arrest.