AURORA, Colorado (CBS4) – When a trio of heavily armed burglars broke into his body shop on April 11, owner Mohamed Mouaddine was on a plane but was automatically notified of the break-in. After landing, he viewed surveillance video of what was happening at his Aurora business.
“It’s a bit terrifying,” Mouaddine said.
In what he described as a well-organized commando-style entry into his business, the intruders smashed through a garage door, then spent about half an hour inside the store loading customers’ cars with tools, computers, catalytic converters, parts, and other accessories. They then drove off in customers’ cars, stealing two cars in all.
“I was shocked like everyone else when I saw the images,” Mouaddine said.
In video provided to CBS4, the men are seen brandishing weapons during the robbery. One of them is armed with a pistol and a second rifle. Two are wearing gloves and masks.
“They didn’t bring them to scare people, they brought them to use them,” Mouaddine said.
Mouaddine believes the intruders would have shot anyone they found inside, but the business was empty at 5 a.m. and no one was injured.
“I think if someone entered the building, I’m 100% sure they would be dead,” Mouaddine said.
Still, the incident has shaken Mouaddine to the point that he is considering moving his business. He says he has been robbed several times before, but never by such heavily armed bandits.
After 11 years in the same place, Mouaddine now says his office manager won’t come early in the morning or stay late. Another employee now comes to work armed with a handgun.
“I think being soft on crime got us here,” Mouaddine said.
“I think inflation brought us here. I think the cost of living brought us here,” he added.
The crew that hit Mouaddine’s business apparently hit another auto shop in Denver around the same time, breaking down a door and stealing customers’ cars, according to an employee.
Mouaddine estimates his losses and damages will be around $200,000, although he says he has a good insurance policy.
Aurora police told CBS4 they could not comment because an active investigation was ongoing. A task force on auto theft in the metropolitan area is also participating in the investigation.
Crime statistics for Aurora from January 1, 2021 to September 30, 2021 show that property crimes are up 20.1% from 2020 and burglaries are up 5.2% from 2020. violence increased by 14.1% from 2020 to 2021.