PILSEN — A popular Pilsen cafe was hit by burglars two times in less than one week, and Pilsen neighbors are stepping up to help.
Someone broke into family-owned La Catrina Cafe, 1011 W. 18th St., overnight Friday and again overnight Monday, owner Diana Galicia said. The two recent burglaries mark the third time the coffee shop has been burglarized in recent months as a rash of break-ins continue to plague the neighborhood.
In the three burglaries, computer tablets and $1,200 in cash has been stolen, Galicia said, and the window frame has been busted two times.
In the latest incident, the burglar broke out a rear window to gain access to the building, Chicago Police said. Computer tablets and cash, including a box of money that Galicia is saving for her baby granddaughter's college education, was stolen from the shop.
That money aimed to help her granddaughter Olivia after her father Gabriel Cisneros, Galicia's son, died unexpectedly last year. Galicia and her husband, Salvador Corona, raised the money over several months, with the proceeds coming from the sale of merchandise that was adorned her late son's sketches.
"It's really on us — me, my husband and the sales" to provide for her, Galicia said.
Last week, a burglar broke out a kitchen window and stole cash, police said.
No one is in custody, and police did not have a description of the burglar or burglars.
The recent break-ins come after the cafe was one of several 18th Street restaurants that were burglarized in December. About $400 was stolen from the shop's register after someone got in to the shop through a kitchen window after removing the security bars.
After the December break-in, Galicia installed an alarm system in the shop, but the alarm failed to deter the thief Friday night. An alarm technician was scheduled to check the alarm Tuesday, hours after the Monday night burglary.
After the passing of her son, a talented artist, and the three break-ins, Galicia said it's "a struggle to keep going every day."
But "I know the community needs us, this is why we keep going," she said. "But it is tough not knowing whether we're going to have a profitable day."
In an effort to help the La Catrina family recover from the break-ins, former employee Alyssa Cardenas has launched a GoFundMe campaign online. The fundraiser had raised $4,145 as of Thursday morning, surpassing the campaign's initial goal.
The Pilsen "mom-and-pop shop" hosts many fundraisers, events and art shows, playing an important role in the neighborhood, Cardenas said.
"The fact that someone would target a family that has already had a rough past year is horrendous," Cardenas said. "It hurts me to see them hurting."
La Catrina Cafe opened on 18th Street in March 2013.