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This article was published 17/6/2020 (328 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Thieves stole the furniture and decor from a Polo Park-area restaurant's back patio this past weekend, just one day after the owners put it outside.
Tables, chairs, flower pots — even decorative concrete horse heads — were stolen from Arabic street food restaurant Yafa Café at 1785 Portage Ave. The thefts happened overnight Saturday and Sunday. Staff set up the patio on Friday.
Surveillance videos from neighbouring business Alpha Technologies Inc. show two unidentified men stealing the furniture. On one tape, they load a garden decoration into the bed of a blue truck. One man tries to move a table with four chairs attached to it but abandons it when he realizes he can't lift the set and gets in the truck with the other man.
"They're not a lot of money value, but the principle of (the theft) is very difficult to swallow." –Rana Abdulla
On the first night, the thieves stole the stainless-steel tables and wicker chairs on Yafa Café's back patio. The chairs were wicker, and the tables were stainless steel, said Rana Abdulla, the part-owner of Yafa Café.
"I think the first time he got away, he thought, 'Oh, this is working,'" she said.
The men came back the following night for the concrete benches, decorative garden ornaments and four flower pots.
"We didn't expect that," Abdulla said. "They're not a lot of money value, but the principle of (the theft) is very difficult to swallow."
The owners decided to build a patio to accommodate customers during the COVID-19 pandemic. There are also tables in front of the restaurant, but traffic from Portage Avenue can make it a noisy place to eat, Abdulla said.
"We wanted to make nice music, nice lighting, nice seating and a nice garden, (but) the stuff was stolen," she said.
Abdulla couldn't say how much the stolen goods were worth, but guessed it was in the range of $2,000. Now the plan is to buy and install concrete tables.
"We can't put anything movable," Abdulla said. "Only concrete furniture will work."
The theft is a blow to the restaurant, particularly given the current economy, she said.
"It's difficult when you're trying to do this and somebody has the guts to (steal) in the middle of the pandemic where every dollar counts."
Abdulla said she's worried about finding space for the concrete tables in the winter, but that it's not a problem to tackle just yet.
The owners are having more lighting installed in the back along with a second security camera.
Community members are showing their support for the restaurant, offering unused tables, chairs and umbrellas, but Abdulla doesn't want them to suffer the same fate.
Alpha Technologies Inc. owner Alan Castell said he's made sure security cameras from his property also capture the goings on outside the cafe.
The Headliner community journalist
Gabrielle Piché is the community journalist for The Headliner. Gabby is a cub reporter fresh from Red River College’s creative communications program. She majored in journalism and spent the summer of 2020 as an intern at the Winnipeg Free Press. Gabby also has a B.A. in communications from the University of Winnipeg. She reported for newspapers in the Interlake, including the Selkirk Record, in 2019, and received the Eric and Jack Wells Excellence in Journalism award in 2020. When she’s not chasing stories, you can find Gabby listening to podcasts, attempting yoga or petting somebody’s dog Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org