SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The owners of the Neighborhood Market & Restaurant in eastern Sioux Falls are at a loss as to why their small business has been the target of multiple break-ins.
Since March of 2022, the Halal market and restaurant has been the victim of four burglaries with thousands of dollars in loss and damage. The latest burglary took place early Monday morning while owners Hayder Hayyawi and Reem Alsulaimawi were at home asleep.
“We were deeply sleeping, and we heard, about 3:30 in the morning, police were knocking on our door, and they were trying to get us to the store as soon as possible,” Alsulaimawi said. “We walked in and, as you can see, the door is completely smashed.”
Once at the store, Alsulaimawi and her husband began to clean up the damage from the latest break-in. Police were at the store this morning but told Alsulaimawi they didn’t find anything. After they left, she found a small rock among the shattered glass that the police overlooked. Alsulaimawi is saving in a paper towel and avoiding touching in case police can identify fingerprints on it.
Like past incidents, Alsulaimawi said that some vapes were stolen. Prior to the break-in they had 24 cases but now they’re down to only four.
“I really don’t know, I don’t know what’s going on,” Alsulaimawi said. “But I don’t think that we should be treated this way. You know, it makes me feel to the point that I want to leave the state and go somewhere safer if we cannot be safe in this area.”
While this incident was less severe than the last robbery three months ago, the consistent attacks are getting to Alsulaimawi and her husband.
“I’m kind of still shaky. I mean, waking up at three in the morning seeing that your store is being destroyed… This is something, I don’t know– It breaks my heart,” Alsulaimawi said.
The owners still have little information from police on past robberies and wish there was more communication with the Sioux Falls Police Department.
“I think Sioux Falls could do better,” Alsulaimawi.
Public Information Officer Sam Clemens told KELOLAND News that there are no suspects yet in the case.
Alsulaimawi feels as though these attacks aren’t being taken seriously and is worried about future incidents.
“I feel like at some point or sometimes they are going to be, like, tracing me if I’m alone in the store or not. They’ll just pop out of nowhere and then pull a gun on me or something,” Alsulaimawi said. “That really makes me sad.”
A robbery last June went just like that.
Hayyawi told KELOLAND News that a person came in asking to buy tobacco products but had no ID. When they were told they would need an ID to make a purchase, a gun was pulled on the cashier and the person damaged the door on their way out.
Sioux Falls Voices for Peace thought the destruction in the store during the December break-in was indicative of a hate crime, but police disagreed. Alsulaimawi isn’t sure whether these events are personal or random and can’t make sense of how frequently they are happening.
“I mean, if it feels personal, what happened to make it personal?” Alsulaimawi said. “We’re not hurting anyone; we’re minding our own business. We’re here from eight to nine every day. I mean, I don’t know, if they have an issue with that, it’s their problem.”
Alsulaimawi and her husband know the clients that shop at the market well as they come in daily, sometimes multiple times a day. She said there’s no way this could be the result of upset clientele.
“We know our customers; we know what they want. We know exactly what they’re looking for inside the store. There’s no way,” Alsulaimawi said.
For now, Alsulaimawi and her husband are trusting the police to find answers and hope that the attacks don’t escalate further, especially when people are in the shop.
“What do they want? It’s just a family business,” Alsulaimawi said, frustrated. “If they’re trying to ruin it, well, let them go and ruin it. We’re not gonna leave.”