Nova Scotia

Break-ins at Syrian-owned businesses in Bedford bring back painful memories

The co-owner of a Syrian-owned ice cream shop on the Bedford Highway says a recent break-in reminded him of the chaos he escaped from in his home country. Booza Emessa was one of two businesses targeted by thieves over the weekend.

2 Syrian-owned businesses on the Bedford Highway were broken into over the weekend

Samer Aljokhadar, left, and Nabil Alzaabi are upset after they arrived at their business on Saturday to find it had been targeted by thieves overnight. (CBC)

Police in the Halifax area are investigating after thieves targeted two Syrian-owned businesses on the Bedford Highway over the weekend.

Both were owned by Syrian refugees who came to Nova Scotia to escape the civil war.

Samer Aljokhadar, co-owner of Booza Emessa, recalled entering the ice cream shop Saturday to find the business turned upside down.

"Somebody come in and make a huge mess here with bills, with cups, with spoons, with everything on the floor," he said. 

"They make a huge hole in two walls in the washroom and here in the store."

These photos, posed to the Booza Emessa Facebook page, show some of the damage. (Booza Emessa Ice Cream/Facebook)

The break-in brought back painful memories for Aljokhadar, who said the assault on the business reminded him of the chaos he left behind in Syria.

"I was very sad in that moment," he said.

"I'm shocked because I remember right away everything, what I had in my city in Syria when the war started, when we lost our business there and our home."

Aljokhadar said they worked quickly to fix the damage in the walls.

"I have no choice. I have to continue my job. I [had] to reopen as soon as possible," he said.

The thieves left two holes in the store's walls. They have since been filled in. (CBC)

Booza Emessa's Nabil Alzaabi doesn't understand why there was so much destruction.

"If you need to steal something, you don't make a mess and damage the property," he said.

Neighbour also targeted

Next door to the ice cream shop, Grill Way & Catering was targeted too.

Grill Way owner Wasel Al Masalmeh, speaking through Alzaabi, said the television was stolen and a hole was left in the wall. They believe the thieves may have been trying to get to the other store through the wall.

The thieves also stole more than 270 kilograms of beef, as well as nine whole lambs and some chicken.

Wasel Al Masalmeh, right, speaking through Nabil Alzaabi, says more than 270 kilograms of beef was stolen. (CBC)

Grill Way had just received an order on Thursday. "They took everything," said Alzaabi.

Al Masalmeh said he doesn't feel safe after what happened. "This business belongs to people that need to live," Alzaabi said on his behalf.

Alzaabi added he was thankful to the community for the outpouring of support since the break-ins happened.

"It's passed. We are in the future," said Alzaabi.

Booza Emessa and Grill Way & Catering have since reopened. (CBC)

Both stores have since reopened.

In an email, Halifax Regional Police said they are investigating the break-ins.

They are asking anyone with information to contact police or Crime Stoppers.