The Missoula Police Department has announced the arrest of a man on suspicion of burglary in downtown Missoula and are “working hard to connect him with other similar crimes in the downtown area.”
Chad Lobeck, 48, was arrested on suspicion of burglary Dec. 28 in the 100 block of North Higgins. In the past few weeks, several downtown businesses near that location have been broken into, burglarized and vandalized.
Smooch Cosmetic Boutique, Market on Front and Lake Missoula Tea Company all reported break-ins and burglaries. The Missoulian and other news outlets reported on the alleged crimes last week.
The City of Missoula Police Department posted on Facebook on Wednesday that officers are trying to connect Lobeck to other burglaries downtown, “many of which have been recently reported in local news media.”
Detective Stacy Lear with MPD asks anyone with information regarding Lobeck or recent burglaries in the downtown area to call her at 406-552-6283.
Elli Schroeder, the owner of Smooch Cosmetic Boutique, said that video surveillance showed four men and one female broke into her store on Dec. 17 and robbed it and destroyed many items of merchandise. Then, at 11:09 p.m. on Wednesday of this week, she got an alert on her phone that her store camera had detected motion. The video showed a female bear-hugging the same door that was kicked in before, with the female shouting “you locked us out,” according to Schroeder. This time, Schroeder immediately called police, who showed up and got the names of the five people. The investigation is still ongoing.
“It’s just crazy what’s going on,” she said.
Solange Brunet owns The Empanada Joint on Main Street next to Smooch. Brunet said her store was broken into and burglarized in September, and the person responsible hasn’t been caught.
“Our back door was kicked in, breaking the entire door frame,” Brunet said in a public Facebook post, which she gave the Missoulian permission to use. “They made out with all of our cash, our gift certificates and our laptop.
"Since then, we have installed a security system, surveillance cameras with night vision, reinforced the doors with mega-steel, and gone through all steps we need to feel more safe. I feel sad for my neighbors who also got robbed.”
She’s taking it in stride, but she thinks all the commercial construction downtown has made for an easy distraction for would-be thieves. She’s also not sure the same people who broke into Smooch were the ones responsible for the Empanada Joint break-in.
“The silver lining in all of this is that no one was hurt,” she said. “For this, we are most grateful. No equipment was broken. Grateful also that I found a maturity and grace about me that I have never witnessed before when challenged like this. I was given a strength and thick skin since I opened this Joint, to roll with the punches.”