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<p>Great Harvest Bread Co. still hasn't fully recovered from the burglary in January.</p>
Great Harvest Bread Co. still hasn't fully recovered from the burglary in January.

Increased crime in Westerville means vandalism and theft for many businesses

Still, “overall safety of the community” ranks as highest aspects of the city in Westerville resident's survey

Recent crime reports in Westerville are suggesting that the area is experiencing an uptick of crime since last year's crime report. 

After a burglary was reported on Jan. 5 at Great Harvest Bread Co. on 445 S. State St. in Westerville, officers arrived at the scene finding the front window of the bakery smashed and a tip jar containing proceeds going to Westerville Area Resource Ministries (WARM) stolen.

According to a Westerville police report, a rock was found that was used to break into the bakery.

A single witness at the site observed a white male, around 5'11" to 6'2", wearing jeans, a dark hoodie, and sunglasses standing around the corner of the bakery.

A few days earlier on Jan. 3, a burglary at Tim Hortons on State Street occurred with similarities to the case at Great Harvest Bread Co.

A Westerville police report said that officers observed a brick at the site that had been used to break into the building and a stolen cash donation box.

The building security cameras provided law enforcement officials with video footage of the criminal breaking into the building, grabbing the donation box and leaving out the window.

The report included that the cameras captured a male wearing dark clothing and a mask.

Data presented by the FBI reported by the Westerville Police Department (WPD) shows a gradual increase of burglary incidents in Westerville with 35 burglary cases being reported in 2020 to 65 reported burglary cases in 2022.

The Otterbein Police Department released its annual crime report in 2023 that showed the number of burglary reports on campus. Otterbein University’s crime map of 2021, along with the annual crime report, showed that campus saw a slight decrease of burglary incidents in 2022.

“Closed businesses that get broken into are not unusual for us,” said Detective Lt. Justin Alloway of the Westerville Police Department, “it’s a crime of opportunity for people, they can see in, see that there’s some cash…break in, they get out as quick as they can.”

Though Westerville crime rates have seemed to fluctuate over the past five years, crime has never disappeared entirely from the city.

Jim Horstman and his wife Deborah Horstman have owned Great Harvest Bread Co. in Westerville since June 2004.

The burglary incident forced the bakery to close for a short period for repairs and cleaning. This affected the business as revenue and cash flow came to a halt while the shop was closed. 

But the owners have expressed their gratitude for the residents of Westerville since reopening to the public. Customers and passersby have contributed donations big and small to show support as the business gets back up and running.

“The support that we’ve gotten since this happened…has been absolutely overwhelming… it’s actually been to the point of being humbling” said owner Jim Horstman.

As for the safety of local Westerville residents, data shows that they would prefer to keep the area as much of a neighborhood community as possible.

In Westerville’s 2023 residential survey, the “overall safety of the community” was among the highest rated aspects of the city along with survey results reporting that residents feel the most important issue for WPD is maintaining routine patrols.

The survey results show protection of property as the next most important issue for WPD, according to resident respondents.

While crime rates continue to fluctuate Westerville, residents seem to have confidence in their local police department to do what they can to prioritize neighborhood safety. The best way to reach WPD in a time of nonemergency is to call 614-882-7444. 

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