Theft at local business leaves owners spiraling


Borchert’s Meat Market, located at 1344 Frost Ave., is owned by an East Side family. The owners of Kamp’s Food Market helped them out after Borchert’s refrigeration system was vandalized.

In the early morning hours of June 10, some of the compressors for the Borchert’s Meat Market refrigeration systems were taken apart for their metal components. Aundrea Kinney photos/Review

The inside of Borchert’s Meat Market in Maplewood is lined with coolers and freezers, none of which were operational for about a two-week period following a theft that damaged the refrigeration system. Aundrea Kinney photos/Review

Dave Borchert, co-owner of Borchert’s Meat Market, described the business’ walk-in cooler as the “heart of the store” because it holds the specialty meat products the business is known for. Aundrea Kinney photos/Review

The refrigeration system at Borchert’s Meat Market in Maplewood was tampered with around 3 a.m. June 10. The suspects, who were caught on camera, cut the power to the business’ condensing units, which keep all of the refrigerator and freezer units cold, and stripped two of the five condensing units for scrap metal. 

The owners didn’t discover the problem until they arrived to work at 9 a.m., later that morning.

Borchert’s Meat Market, located at 1344 Frost Ave., has been owned by the Borchert family since 2015. The business is known for selling a variety of meat products as well as other specialty grocery items.

In addition to the cost of a new compressor, the small, family-owned business lost the bulk of its products due to spoilage and missed out on almost two weeks of sales. 

Local patrons were also affected when they were unable to purchase their favorite items as grilling season got underway. 

 

The losses

According to the Borcherts, all of the shop’s cooling systems were rendered unuseable — from the grab-and-go cooler for items like sandwiches to the walk-in cooler that stores beverages, milk, produce and meats. The freezer that lines the back of the store and holds ice cream, pizzas and frozen meats was also down.

“We went into father’s day weekend without anything,” co-owner Dave Borchert said. 

He explained that in the meat industry, Father’s Day through Fourth of July is like Black Friday through Christmas in the retail industry, because families tend to celebrate these warmer holidays with outdoor grilling.

“The walk-in is basically the heart of the store,” he said. “I mean, without that we can’t survive.”

 

Ongoing investigation

Derek Fritze, acting sargeant at the Maplewood Police Department, said the suspects have not yet been identified.

“There was a tool that was left there possibly by the suspects,” Fritze said and added that police are hoping to find DNA on the tool that could help in the investigation. 

He said that to his knowledge, no other area businesses had scrap metal stolen that morning.

Borchert Meats co-owner Donna Borchert explained that the business has had some theft issues in the past, such as people pocketing products, and last winter someone tried to break-in — possibly to steal the ATM.

The June 10 incident couldn’t have come at a worse time, the family said; in addition to the busy Father’s Day weekend at the shop, the Borchert’s were preparing for a high school graduation party for one of their children. 

“Not only do we try to run a business, but we have a family, and this just hit us at a time when it was just busy and stressful,” Donna said.

 

Community support

The Borcherts, who live on the East Side of St. Paul within walking distance of their shop, received help from another family-owned business as well as compassionate customers. 

Business friend Paul Kamp, owner of Kamp’s Food Market in St. Paul, helped the Borcherts restock some of the meats for their meat counter. Kamp also offered his freezer and cooler space, according to Borchert, who added that the industry is so small that the business owners know each other.

“I don’t call them competitors because we’re all in this together,” he added.

Borchert said the family received encouragement from understanding customers, noting  about half of the store’s customers are regular patrons, many from the neighborhood.

The other half of the customers, he said, are new, often coming in from the Gateway and Bruce Vento trails, which intersect near the store. 

He said that first impressions are huge, so he hoped to not turn away any customers while their coolers were out.

“To all those who have continued to shop during our struggles and have offered support and kind words, we say thank you,” Donna wrote in a letter to the shop’s customers.

The shop’s condensers are now back up and running again.

 

Aundrea Kinney can be reached at 651-748-7822 or akinney@lillienews.com.

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