Fouad Awad (above) displays the rock that smashed the glass door (left) of their restaurant Sunday night. The Awad family spent the next day cleaning up shattered glass.

Break-in doesn’t shatter family’s faith in community

A rock bigger than a fist was thrown through the glass door of Baba Gannouj

When thieves broke into Baba Gannouj, a restaurant serving Syrian and Lebanese food at Merecroft Village, they didn’t just steal a donation box with money in it – they stole compassion and charity.

“It had a lot of love from Campbell River people,” said Merrel Awad. “Campbell River people put a lot of love in this box.”

Awad and her husband Fouad own the restaurant and were called by police on Sunday night who informed them of the break-in around 11:30 p.m.

“The door was broken and there was a big hole in it,” Awad said. “It was a big mess (inside).”

Two men were observed committing the offence by a neighbouring business owner. A rock bigger than a fist was thrown through the glass door of Baba Gannouj. The shattered glass sprayed everywhere, along the sidewalk outside and all over the floor and counters inside. The Awads had to empty and clean out their grills and deep friers. And they lost a day’s worth of business doing so.

But as bad as the damage was, the thing that hurt the most was the eventual discovery of the missing box of donations the family was collecting to alleviate the plight of children in their war-torn Syrian homeland.

“It is the thing that hurts the most,” Awad said, “the break-in damage is covered by insurance but it was a big thing to lose this money.”

The donation box contained around $600 but Awad said they always felt it was safe, that no one would ever take it. The police asked if anything was missing and their initial search found everything in place but after a while, they realized the donation box was gone.

“At that point I started crying,” Awad said. “I don’t care about cleaning and everything but I was so sad (about the theft).”

Awad is upset that the theft was for no other reason than to be destructive or to buy drugs.

“If they did it for a big reason and they need it for something, something really serious, they could ask for it,” Awad said.

The box of donations represents the generosity of Campbell Riverites.

“People in Campbell River really have big hearts, they’re really nice people. They will give when you ask.”

In fact, once word got around about the break-in and theft, a man came into the store and gave $20. Awad said she doesn’t know his name but wanted him to know that his gesture was appreciated.

“He gave me hope when we lost hope,” Awad said. “He really just touched my heart.”

Campbell River RCMP were called to a break and enter in progress at Baba Gannouj Mediterranean Restaurant in Merecroft Village at 11:08 p.m. on Sunday, Cpl. Poppy Hallam said. The caller witnessed two males wearing jeans, black hoodies and balaclavas smash the front door window. The suspects were last seen at Pinecrest School by a witness in the neighbourhood.

If you have any information about this crime, call the Campbell River RCMP or if you wish to remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers at  1-800-222-TIPS (8477).