Austin small business hit by back-to-back burglaries days before reopening

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A small business on Chicago's West Side was hit twice by burglars within the same week. The crimes happened just as the owner was about to reopen after surviving a rough pandemic shutdown.

"It's outraging; it's frustrating. To stand here and have this conversation today. It's melancholy," owner Layla Bitoy-Dillon said. "We sustained COVID-19, Black Lives Matter and all the other tragedies around the last 19 months."

Bitoy's Sweet Treats shop was hit with two back-to-back burglaries last week. The first one took place overnight last Wednesday.

"They actually broke into the garage, vandalized the garage, pried open the security doors in the back, came into the store, ransacked everything," she said.

And less than 48 hours later, their surveillance cameras captured another break-in.

"This time they threw a boulder or whatever that is over there directly through the window," she said.

Bitoy-Dillon and husband are looking at $100,000 in damages. But more importantly, they're looking for direction and change for their beloved Austin community.

"Austin is great. It can be greater and we just need the tools, the research, the vision and the leadership to make it sustainable," she said.

The couple said they chose this neighborhood specifically to help impact change.

"We brought our businesses eight years ago. We believe in Austin. We love Austin," she said.

And she said they want to stay in business in Austin, but business owners like her need more help from the city.

"I think when you just look at one-for-one, the street scaling, parking, the overall safety, those are some challenges," she said. "We are ready for the infusion that it takes to be just as successful as it is in any other community in Chicago."

Layla has since started an online petition demanding better leadership, planning and support for Austin small businesses. She said she's not ready to give up on the community her family has been a part of for decades.
Copyright © 2021 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.