Sorry, we’re closed today is the story from May Slawson, owner of Sai Thai Cafe, following a robbery late Tuesday afternoon. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)

Sorry, we’re closed today is the story from May Slawson, owner of Sai Thai Cafe, following a robbery late Tuesday afternoon. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)

Afternoon robbery at Duncan restaurant has owner fed up

“It’s not stealing from me, it’s stealing from my customers”

A brazen daytime robbery on Tuesday at Sai’s Place Spice Cafe in Duncan has the owner fed up with the increase in crime in the area.

“It hurts, she’s just devastated,” said manager Grant McHardie of owner May Slawson.

“It’s not stealing from me, it’s stealing from my customers,” said Slawson.

The restaurant opened about five years ago, and they are just starting to see a profit, McHardie said, so when someone steals from a small business like this it’s a big deal.

Slawson had gone to take a walk around town during the period after the lunch rush and before the dinner hour started. She locked the door, but since she wasn’t planning to be gone very long, didn’t set the alarm. But it was long enough for a man to come down the side of the building and pry open the front door. The thief took more than $500 from the till, wine, beer and prawns from the freezer. The man was in the kitchen filling his backpack when a young employee came to start her shift at 4:15 p.m. and scared him off.

Slawson is concerned about the safety of her employees. It’s also a big loss for the business, which was closed Wednesday as the police forensic unit collected evidence and they were trying to re-stock.

“It’s pretty bad when you have someone doing that in the middle of the day,” said McHardie. It’s a symptom of how serious the crime problem is getting in general around town, he said, as drug addicts look for ready cash.

Cpl. Tammy Douglas, RCMP Island District spokesperson, confirmed Wednesday, “At approximately 4:30 p.m. yesterday Sai’s Spice Cafe was broken into and an employee interrupted the culprit who then fled.”

The suspect is describes as a white man, approximately 5 foot 8, with blond hair. He was wearing a black raincoat, black baggy pants and a black backpack. The file remains under investigation and RCMP Forensic Identification is assisting, she said.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP at 250-748-5522.