Jack Pollock

In late January, Earl Clark's eponymous barbershop on NE Alberta was broken into. The would-be robbers damaged the door to get in, and tried to bust open the ATM. Fortunately for Clark, the robbers failed.

"My thought is they were looking for cash. They didn't trash up my place or nothing," Clark says. In the dozen years Earl's Barbershop has been on Alberta, the January 22 attempted robbery is only the second time someone's broken in. The last time was eight or nine years ago, Clark says.

A few weeks later—in the early hours of February 20—the Community Cycling Center (CCC), on the same NE Alberta block as Earl's, wasn't as lucky. "We came in to work on Tuesday to find our store burglarized and ransacked," said Alison Hill, the nonprofit's director of development and communication. Thieves got away with the safe, three bikes, and "all of the high-end components. Ironically, they stole a bunch of locks and some lights." Hill says the CCC lost about $15,000 to damage and theft.

The two businesses aren't the only ones to be targeted on NE Alberta in the past few months. There have been 10 robberies since December 1, says police spokesperson Brian Schmautz—including a few of the street's boutiques and restaurants. One owner pulled up in front of her business and realized there were burglars inside, Schmautz says. She honked her horn to scare them off. "She said that she just didn't want them to take anything," Schmautz says (adding that the police prefer that you call 911).

Some residents have speculated that the burglaries are politically motivated—a reaction to the recent years of gentrification along the street. Schmautz says it's unlikely: "It's more an issue that there's a belief that there's something worth taking. Burglars go where the money is, they want stuff to take. Anyplace you've got viable businesses, you've got people wanting to take stuff."

Detectives at the Northeast Precinct have made six arrests in the last three weeks for burglaries, reports Sergeant Stephanie Lourenco. "We've arrested two teams of burglars in the last month," she says, including those who broke into the bar, Zaytoon's, and were chased away. The investigations are ongoing, but detectives may be able to link the burglars to other NE Alberta burglaries.