HARLEM — Burglars may have stolen the power tools from a man hoping to open a local bar across from Abyssinian Baptist Church, but they can't take his dream.
Claud Fatu the owner and contractor of a bar under construction on the corner of 138th Street and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard, said that three men were caught on surveillance camera stealing $6,000 worth of tools and materials from his property on June 7.
"The most surprising thing is how easy it was," said Fatu, 33. "They shattered the glass of the front door at 4 a.m., came back an hour later to fill bags up with tools, and then came back with a van at 10 a.m."
Fatu has been renovating the bar, Harlem Nights, at 138th Street and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. for more than six months. Although they lost most of their tools and will have to reorder custom electrical components, the burglary should only push the opening back a few weeks, he said.
Luckily, he has contractor friends who are willing to let him borrow some of the more expensive tools, he added.
“I was a little depressed for a day or two but I snapped out of it,” he said. “I’m not going to stop.”
He filled out a police report and officers from the 32nd Precinct stopped by, looked at security camera footage from the deli next door, took finger prints, and took a cigarette that one of the men left behind for a possible DNA test, Fatu said.
Nobody has been arrested for the burglary yet, he added.
Fatu suspects whoever stole the tools had been watching him and his construction crew for weeks.
“Sunday is the only day we aren’t here working on the bar,” he said. “Someone had to know. Someone had to watch us and know how we work.”
Two weeks ago someone stole a drill that one of his workers left outside while he got a drink of water, he said.
The tools have most likely already been sold at other construction sites, he said.
Fatu has been a contractor since 2008 and has worked in projects all over the city. It's common to have men with backpacks filled with power tools walk up to a site and try to sell a $400 drill for less than $100, he said.
He is using the burglary as a learning experience. He is installing shatter-proof glass, motion sensors, a panic button behind the bar, and high definition cameras inside and outside the bar, he said.
“I’m going to be able to zoom in and literally look at the color of someone’s eyes,” he said of the cameras.