AUSTIN (KXAN) — A long-time Austin business already struggling to stay afloat was dealt another blow last week.
Nau’s Enfield Drug owner Laura Labay told KXAN someone stole two of the old soda fountain’s antique signs that hung atop the building.
She says Thursday night, a man could be seen on the store’s surveillance footage walking up to the building and breaking its security cameras. The next night, Labay said, was when two of the three Coca-Cola signs that hung atop the building were taken.
“I found the screwdrivers and wrenches and pliers just right there—they just left them,” Labay said pointing to the store’s roof, adding that she believes the same thief or thieves planned to come back again to take the third.
Thankfully, she was able to take down the third sign and save it before they could.
Laby said the Coca-Cola signs have been on the building since her father bought it in 1971. She estimates they’re worth several thousand dollars a piece.
“We’ve been burglarized throughout the years and normally it’s for narcotics or drugs or money or something, and this is just one of those things where it’s almost personal,” she said. “Coca-Cola is part of what soda fountains are.”
Labay showed a KXAN crew her security footage, which shows the man who broke the camera with a knife tucked into his pants. It also shows a green SUV pulling up across the street, which Labay believes the suspect was driving.
“This was timed. Somebody had to bring tools. They had to set up a car. They had to get a big enough SUV. They had to have the equipment to get on the roof. They had to have the manpower to get the materials off the roof,” she said. “This was well thought out, and that’s what’s more scary to me, is that they knew where the cameras were, they smashed equipment. This was not somebody that just drove by and said, ‘Oh, there’s some cool stuff here. Let’s go grab it.'”
Labay filed a report with the Austin Police Department, and a detective is working the case. However, Labay fears for her and other store employees’ safety in the meantime.
“It’s not just the sign,” she said. “Are we next? Are we going to be robbed? Are we going to have to go through a narcotics robbery? Is somebody going to get held up at gunpoint? I mean, especially since this person has a weapon, that’s pretty frightening.”
Just as frightening for Labay is the shop’s struggle to stay open. Nau’s has struggled financially for years, and Labay said the pandemic has further done away with much of its business. She said yet again being a target of crime has raised questions within her family of whether the store should close for good.
“Especially around the holidays and COVID and everything; it’s just really crushing to one’s soul right now,” she said.
Labay said the signs that were stolen are very rare, so she’s asking people to keep an eye out for them at pawn shops or other spots they could be sold. She’s willing to offer a reward to anyone who can return them to the store.