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San Jose business owner dealing with multiple break-ins at tea shop

A downtown San Jose tea shop says repeated crimes have them struggling to stay open.

Lam Ha, the owner of Tea Villa says he’s had more than 20 break-ins since the pandemic started, including seven in the past year. He can’t afford to keep replacing the glass.

“This glass panel alone was broken into four times and I got fed up. So I installed acrylic. But they tried to break it with a rock of some kind. They couldn’t, so they tried to burn it,” he said. “I had security cameras ripped off the walls.”

Ha added that burglars also stole the technology he relies on for to-go orders.

“They ripped off all the tablets off the wall that we had. So, those were really costly. So we had iPads, we had Samsungs and we had replace them three or four times,” he said.

Ha said that four PlayStation consoles he bought for customers to use were also stolen. But it’s the broken windows that have become his biggest expense.

“All these four panels just got broken into in the last nine months,” he said.

Ha said the incident are forcing him to make a decision, which are pay his employees or pay thousands of dollars to replace the windows. He decided to just board them up with plywood.

Manuel Perez has been a security guard for the building in the last 10 years and told NBC Bay Area that he has seen crime increase recently.

“I’ve been here all those times. Windows get broken, you make a report and that’s the end of it,” he said.

San Jose police did make one arrest, but Ha said the break-ins continue and he’s worried about his employees.

“It’s not just myself and the store, but now it’s the safety of the employees also. So, everybody here is concerned. I’m not even sure how long I can stay here?” he said.

Ha said that during the pandemic, Tea Villa handed out free food, clothes and blankets to people in need. Now, he’s hoping the community can help him stay in business.

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