SEATTLE – Over the weekend, a long-time restaurant owner on Lake City Way returned to his place of business to find it littered with graffiti.
“It’s just really devastating when we’re trying to hang by threads, and there’s people out there damaging small businesses, you know,” said Luam Wersom, owner of Mojito restaurant.
Wersom is originally from East Africa and was a refugee in Greece before coming to Seattle in 1992.
“When Mojito was first built I started here as a dishwasher,” said Wersom. “I never thought I would see the light in the tunnel.”
After 20 years of moving up the ranks and eventually buying out the restaurant, Wersom is now the proud sole owner of the restaurant.
He never thought his biggest test would come in the form of a pandemic.
“It’s really tough days ... really scary times for restaurant owners,” said Wersom.
Like so many small business owners, Wersom has poured his love, sweat and tears into the restaurant and during tough times, it was a double punch to find it defaced and spray-painted with graffiti.
Surveillance video from the overnight hours shows two suspects on the restaurant property and walking over to the food truck that was also marked up.
“It’s our baby,” said Wersom about the food truck. “It’s something that took ten years to save up and try to make something happen and one night it takes to destroy everything.”
Worst of all, the food truck wasn’t even in operation. It was only used for two months before being shut down because Wersom didn’t have enough money to keep it running during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s going to cost up to $4,000 to remove the mess on the truck.
“Please right now is not the time to go hurt somebody and vandalize and make a mess,” said Wersom. “We’re supposed to be volunteering and helping and giving back.”
Out of such a careless act, a local, private security group is responding with positivity after hearing reports of multiple businesses being victims of property crime.
“It’s really in our blood and we want to give back to the community doing what we love," said Joshua Stivers with Homeland Patrol Division Security.
Stivers has more than 20 years of background in police law enforcement and security, and his partner Chris LaDue has a 20 years of combined military, security and safety experience.
The pair also has a combined over 20 years of healthcare security experience.
Homeland Patrol Division Security is offering free patrol services to 25 businesses in downtown Seattle. Stivers said check out their website for more information.
The Seattle Police Department is investigating. If caught, the two suspects who vandalized Mojito could be charged with malicious mischief, a felony charge.
If you can identify the suspects, or know anything to help detective find them, submit an anonymous tip to Crime Stoppers and receive a cash reward of up to $1,000. Just call the hotline at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or put in a tip through the P3 Tips app on your cell phone.