Hansville Grocery owners stock up on security

HANSVILLE — On a table in the entry way of the Hansville Community Center on Wednesday sat a basket with a hand-written sign that had the letters “SOS” printed on it. Several dollar bills had been tossed in.

While SOS is the international distress signal, the acronym served a dual purpose at the community’s April 20 Neighbors Luncheon: “Save Our Store.”

Since Tom and Carolyn Anderson, former owners of the Hansville Grocery and Provisions Company, sold the business in May 2004 to North Kitsap native Kelly Christopherson-Strobel and her husband, Dave, it has been burglarized twice — March 8 and April 8.

The first time, the suspects broke through one window and stole beer. The second time, the same week that Christopherson-Strobel was waiting for a new window, the suspects broke through a second window by throwing a rock through it, and, again, took beer.

However, there was another part of the store that provided an important clue that she had overlooked the first time — the cold medicine aisle.

After living in Minnesota for more than a decade, Christopherson-Strobel was unaware of the methamphetamine problem in Kitsap. Following the second burglary, she was told to check the medicine aisle, and sure enough, cold medicine had been stolen, too.

The couple’s first thought was to barricade the windows, which is what they will be doing within the next few months.

“We’re putting bars up on every window, which is really sad,” Christopherson-Strobel said.

They have already installed motion lights above the store entrance and plan to install a surveillance system in the near future.

Coming from Stillwaters, Minn., where she owned a coffee shop for 12 years and never had this sort of problem, “this isn’t what I expected,” she said.

“They don’t care about getting caught,” Strobel added about the suspects, of which the couple know for sure are older teens as there was a witness for the second burglary.

“The super frustrating thing is there is a fair amount of theft out here,” she said.

The Hansville Community Center is taking donations to help the owners pay for the job. Checks can be made out to the Hansville Community Center and sent to P.O. Box 133 Hansville, WA 98340. Donors should write SOS on the check.

“Mainly because we think the community center, or we as a board, feel that it is important to keep the store and if the kids can’t make it because people keep breaking in, they can’t keep the store,” said HCC First Vice President Lynn Hix. “We want to help the kids keep the store.”

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