LEWISTON — As far as the Thalheimers are concerned, Lewiston is a tough town.
The owners of Bill Davis Tobacconist are from Philadelphia. But according to Debbie Thalheimer and her son, Max, they've taken more lumps here than they did in the bigger city.
The Lisbon Street tobacco store was burglarized last week. Someone threw a clay pot through the front door and cleaned them out of money, cigarettes and other items.
It was the third time this year they've been broken into. Debbie could not remember how many times they'd been broken into since opening two decades ago.
"My insurance company won't touch me any more," she said.
A year ago, the business was burglarized in a similar fashion. Roughly $6,000 in money and goods were taken. A suspect was eventually caught and the Thalheimers figured justice would be done.
Instead, the District Attorney's Office pleaded the case out, Debbie said. The suspect was ordered to pay $100 restitution and was sent on his way.
That, Debbie says, is the problem.
"These guys, they commit felonies. They've got bad records," she said. "But they know how to play the system. They know that around here, crime pays."
When Bill Davis was targeted by thieves last week, police were scattered across the area dealing with several incidents. Car break-ins, vandalism, an armed robbery at a Lisbon Street pharmacy.
"The police," she said, "they're overwhelmed too with all that's going on."
Debbie said she has friends and neighbors whose homes, cars or businesses have been hit by vandals and crooks. Most of the cases are unsolved.
It's partly the economy, she figured. But she believes Lewiston has a serious drug problem that leads to crimes such as robberies and burglaries. Criminals are willing to take risks, Debbie said, because they've gotten away with things before.
"You'd like to see these criminals in black and white uniforms, with big balls chained to their legs," Debbie said. "Instead, they get restitution if they get caught at all. It makes you angry."
She'll have to consider installing yet another alarm system, she said. She may consider other changes at the smoke shop, too. Something to make her store less of a target.
"I'm going to get through the holidays," she said. "And take it from there."