Nova Scotia

Amherst store owner says theft of $50K in jewelry 'absolutely horrifying'

Karen McKinnon of Maritime Mosaic doesn't know what the future of her business looks like after a recent break-in where $50,000 in jewelry was stolen.

Maritime Mosaic was one of 2 businesses that were robbed last Tuesday

Karen McKinnon leans on the empty cases in her store, Maritime Mosaic. The Amherst business is dealing with a loss of $50,000 in jewelry after a break-in last week. (Karen McKinnon)

An Amherst, N.S., store owner is unsure of her business's future after a recent break-in where tens of thousands of dollars in jewelry was stolen.

Karen McKinnon owns Maritime Mosaic, which sells wares made by artisans from around the Atlantic region. 

Last week, McKinnon was called to her store after thieves made off with trays of gold and silver rings, bracelets, necklaces and other valuable items.

She hasn't finished tallying everything yet, but estimates she's lost about $50,000 in merchandise. The cash box, containing a small amount of money, was also stolen.

"I've never, ever experienced anything like this before. It's absolutely horrifying," McKinnon said Tuesday. "I literally feel like ... I got in a car accident without the pain, like it's just very shocking."

Suspects fled before police arrived

McKinnon's shop sits in Dayle's Grand Market, a former department store that is now home to multiple businesses. 

One of her neighbouring shops, Curly's Sports & Supplements, had about $7,000 in items stolen during the break-in, McKinnon said.

One of the jewelry cases full of items that were stolen on March 23. (Karen McKinnon)

She first heard about the theft on March 23, when the building owners called late at night and told her to come down and meet with police.

After watching the security tape with police, McKinnon said it appears two people were involved in the break-in.

They jimmied open the doors to one of the locked cabinets in McKinnon's store to access the goods. They found the keys to a second cabinet in a drawer.

The thieves triggered a silent alarm when they broke into the building, but left the area just before officers appeared, said McKinnon.

The theft comes at an already tough time in the middle of the pandemic, when McKinnon has missed out on months of business from New Brunswick customers unable to cross the border due to COVID-19 restrictions.

"I just wanted to have this little space in my hometown, you know, to help ... people out, and then this happens," McKinnon said. "It's been a kick in the face."

Hoping for arrests

Though she's typically an outgoing, extroverted person, McKinnon said she recently had a panic attack for the first time in a crowded store.

"There were so many people there, and what if the person was watching me?" she said, adding that she hopes arrests will be made so she can sleep at night.

She's also holding out hope that insurance will cover the lost items, but McKinnon said she's worried about paying back the people who trusted her to sell their products and jewelry.

With two small kids, McKinnon doesn't know if she'll be able to pay off such a large amount on her own if the insurance doesn't come through.

"I don't know what's going to happen next," she said.

'It's devastating,' says police chief

McKinnon has reached out to pawn shops around Amherst and in Halifax, and shared photos of the jewelry with buy and sell boards on social media so anyone who sees the items can report them to police.

Chief Dwayne Pike of the Amherst police department said people should be careful when buying things online or second hand, to ensure they're not picking up stolen merchandise.

Pike said it's always tough to see small business owners deal with something like this.

"It's devastating. This isn't a company with no face — these are people who work hard, who are in our community," he said.

When asked if any arrests have been made, Pike said the investigation is ongoing.

"Our members are working hard to bring this to a successful conclusion," he said.

McKinnon is asking anyone who has information about this incident to send her a message via Maritime Mosaic's Facebook page, or phone Amherst police at (902) 667-8600.