“Hopefully business will be OK,” store manager Berihu Mesfin of East Harlem’s Freeland Liquor & Wine said in January, after the store’s owner gave in to public pressure to remove bulletproof plexiglass and riot gates from the front of the store. At the time that the security measures were first installed, Mount Morris Park Community Improvement Association board members called the store an “abomination” and “ghetto.” After formal complaints were filed with the DOB and the Landmarks Preservation Commission, Mesfin spent tens of thousands of dollars to make changes to the store that several members of the community demanded.
Only three months later, the liquor was robbed, twice. DNA Info reports:
“Freeland Liquor & Wine, at 183 Lenox Ave., was hit about 1 a.m. on March 17, when two men cut the security gate and entered the store, swiping bottles of liquor and cash, the NYPD said.
Then, on Thurs., March 22, three male suspects again busted through the security gate, making off with even more booze and money, police said.”
“‘If I had the other gate [in], this wouldn’t have happened,” said Berihu Mesfin, referring to the riot gates that drew the ire of locals who said the store appeared “ghetto.’
‘I put [in] the chain gates and they cut it. I put the chain gate again and they cut it,’ he explained. ‘Now I’ll put [in] the metal gates.’
Mesfin said the burglars stole more than $4,000 from the cash register, as well as 180 bottles of expensive liquor, including Ciroc, Hennessy, Patron and Remy Martin. He noted that the second break-in netted the thieves eight large bottles of high-priced booze and a case of expensive wine.”