‘I want to get out of this area’: Backhoe break-in last straw for business owner plagued by burglaries

Updated: Jun. 10, 2021 at 10:21 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - When someone used a stolen backhoe to smash their way inside a Jackson gas station, it represented a turning point for the owner of the Quick Zone on Medgar Evers Boulevard: he realized he wanted to sell the business and get out of the area.

“Every night I sleep, I’m thinking about the phone, somebody is gonna call me,” said owner Ala Drabi. “One o’clock to five o’clock. The store is gonna get hit again.”

In the two years since Drabi has owned and operated his establishment, he’s dealt with an increasing number of burglaries.

The backhoe break-in, which happened two weeks ago, made him realize he couldn’t keep putting in his own money to offset repairs and losses.

“We don’t make no money. Basically, we’re paying from our pocket,” Drabi said.

On Thursday morning, another convenience store less than a mile away from Drabi - Southland Grocery and Gas - got burglarized, with those responsible using another stolen backhoe to make it happen.

Though police haven’t said whether the two incidents were related, the construction equipment unwittingly used for these burglaries came from the same company: Simmons Erosion Control, which has been working on milling and overlay work on a portion of Medgar Evers Boulevard.

The owner of Southland Grocery and Gas declined to talk to 3 On Your Side about the incident.

Police said the perpetrator drove the backhoe for a mile down the roadway before using it to break through the front door.

Ward 1 Councilman Ashby Foote said he’s amazed nobody, including police, saw this happen and thinks the brazen nature of the burglary is disturbing.

“It speaks to the larger problem is that people think they can get away with this stuff, and not be held accountable about the system. Now we don’t, the city council, doesn’t control all the parts of the system, the legal parts, the courts, and all that are something that’s pretty much beyond our reach,” Foote said. “But we’ve got to make sure the things we do have control over which means a well funded police department, a well-manned police department and a well-trained police department that’s under our jurisdiction.”

Drabi said he appreciates what police are doing, and believes they are diligently working to solve these cases.

That relationship with law enforcement doesn’t help his bottom line, however.

“I’ll be honest with you, if I got some money, [someone’s] gonna buy the store. I will sell it tomorrow morning. I would sell it right now, you know. I don’t care how much. I’m serious. I want to, like, I want to get out of this area,” Drabi said.

Copyright 2021 WLBT. All rights reserved.