EL CAJON, Calif. — An East County restaurant says it has suffered vandalism three times in the past year.
The owner of Funky Fries says the rise in homelessness has contributed to these attacks.
The latest numbers from the San Diego Regional Task Force on Homelessness found homelessness in San Diego County has increased 10% since January 2020, according to our reporting partners San Diego Union- Tribune.
Marlaina Hallak of Funky Fries and Burgers said the vandal destroyed glass doors and windows to her restaurant.
“It does get a little scary,” Hallak said.
The first incident back in March she says someone destroyed her window. Then a surveillance camera caught the person vandalizing another window in June. This past weekend, surveillance video caught a person vandalizing her front doors.
“I think that there’s a rise in the homeless community,” Hallak said. “I’m not blaming anyone or anything. I just see there is a rise and if we can do more about it to help out the situation, I think all of those vandalisms can get lowered for all businesses and homes around El Cajon.”
She believes the rise in homelessness is worsening the problem. Twenty percent of the the county’s homeless now live in East County, according to the Union-Tribune.
Hallak is not the only business dealing with the problems.
“Our business, too, has been vandalized in the last month,” Blendees Owner Monique Stewart said. “We’ve had our equipment stolen.”
Small business owner Monique Stewart says she’s also seen a rise in homelessness and crime.
“While I’m a firm advocate of the homeless community and try to help and give whenever I can, there’s no where for them to go,” Stewart said. “Unfortunately, when they’re in a desperate situation, our businesses are the ones they come after.”
She says hers and other businesses in El Cajon are already struggling to stay afloat because of the pandemic. These owners and the community hope some form of help arrives soon.
“It’s disheartening because it’s such a nice place with friendly staff so it’s kind of just sad to hear all the stuff happening to the place,” customer Tyler Delorenzo said.
El Cajon police says they are investigating the incidents at this business. FOX 5 also reached out to the mayor who has been very vocal about his concern over the growing homeless in East County, but was unavailable Monday.