BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Tenacious thieves are zeroing in on businesses across the Queen City. From serial burglaries on Niagara Street to ambush shoplifters on the Elmwood strip, store owners have had enough.

Elizabeth Cardinale has been working behind the counter at Buffalo Fleece and Outerwear in the Elmwood Village for three years.

“I don’t want to put myself in physical danger. But, at the same time, you kind of have to weigh the pros and cons,” Cardinale said. “It’s kind of scary, you know. Not anticipating. You think someone is just gonna come into work asking for shoes or something innocent and then, you know, there’s a thousand dollars worth of merchandise being taken.”

She told News 4 that shoplifters in the last two months have gotten out of control.

Cardinale said the heist begins with one person browsing the store. Once the sales associate is distracted helping that person, others enter the store and make off with merchandise.

“The first one was an entire rack of raincoats,” added Cardinale. “Same deal, one person comes in and asks for shoes. Person goes in the back to go grab them. By the time they get back with the shoes. The stuff is stolen.”

She adds that cameras aren’t keeping the thieves away. And it’s gotten so bad that employees lock themselves in the store while checking the backroom.

“I’m not chasing anybody outside of the store. I don’t want to put myself in front of that person. I mean, I know a friend of mine, she worked at a store downtown and she put herself in there and then the guy bashed her in the side of the head and put her in the hospital,” said Cardinale. “So, that’s always in the back of my mind.”

Elsewhere on Elmwood, the Apricot Lane Boutique was hit earlier this month and lost hundreds of dollars in merchandise.

Last month, a burglar stole the cash register from Tipico Coffee.

Christopher Conklin manages Ten Thousand Villages, a nonprofit that supports global artisans.

The store was the latest victim of theft this weekend.

“Most of it’s been jewelry, but we did actually have somebody walk down the street with one of these chimes,” Conklin added.

Therese Deutschlander is the president of the Elmwood Village Association and a business owner.

She said the EVA would love to have more police officers walking the village

“We had beat cops and they were walking around and would help decrease the crime,” said Deutschlander. “But, that all depends on the police force and how spread thin they are.”

Buffalo Police tell News 4 that they’ve made an arrest in the Apricot Lane theft.

We’re told that investigators are looking into the other incidents.

A spokesperson adds that officers are regularly walking the Elmwood area.

Patrick Ryan is an award-winning reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2020. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.