Owner Sara Brook splurged on a $3,000 chandelier when she built her Dessert Gallery in Sugar Land two years ago — a luxury she didn't include at her first two locations.
“I wanted to make a beautiful statement,” she said.
In recent months, however, customers at the bakery/cafe started pulling crystals off the chandelier and either taking them home or leaving them in the restroom. It happened so often that the fixture's metal skeleton began to show.
Brook took the chandelier down, an experience she called “heartbreaking.”
“People are just so brazen,” she said.
Brook and other local restaurant owners aren't strangers to similar kinds of theft.
Restaurant theft that takes place during business hours is up slightly this year over last, while break-ins that occur when a restaurant is closed are down, Houston Police Department Captain Rick Bownds said.
People steal from restaurants for a variety of reasons, some of which are alcohol- related, said Kit Yarrow, a professor of psychology and business at Golden Gate University in San Francisco.
“Group-think and alcohol can turn otherwise decent people into thoughtless boobs,” she said. “They're not thinking of those items as belonging to another person. They're thinking of them as stage sets for their performance of bravado.”
If alcohol is not involved it's more opportunistic, Yarrow said. “Restaurants are emotionally different for people than other sorts of purchasing establishments. People ‘consume' the environment along with their meals. Evidently some folks take that to the extreme.”...