Conti’s Pastry Shoppe burglarized, but owner said waiting for police would have cost more than the crime itself

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Conti’s owners Safet Paljevic and his two partners, Senada Paljevic and Christina DiRusso, and manager Gianna Giampia.
Photo courtesy Elias Gelpi

A Morris Park sweet spot had an unexpected guest on Friday morning who wasn’t there for the desserts.

Conti’s Pastry Shoppe, a 100-year-old neighborhood staple, was broken into early Friday morning. A suspect allegedly broke the glass front door of the 786 Morris Park Ave. storefront and took off with two cash registers and $750, according to a police report.

Police said the burglary took place within the 49th Precinct between 2 a.m. and 8 a.m., and there have been no arrests, as of Tuesday.

A view of the smashed door from the inside of Conti’s Pastry Shoppe, 786 Morris Park Ave. Photo courtesy Morris Park BID

One of the pastry shop’s owners, Safet Paljevic, told the Bronx Times that security cameras caught the suspect robbing the store at 2:44 a.m. A baker arrived at the broken-into shop at 4 a.m., and when Paljevic woke up at 6:30 a.m. to missed calls and messages, he brushed his teeth and went straight to the shop. Paljevic said he called the cops at 7:08 a.m. and police arrived after 8 a.m. By then, he had already opened shop.

Paljevic said that when he called the police, he was asked to be patient with officers while they address other situations, and that they would get to Conti’s as soon as they could.

Paljevic said the message was not reassuring, so he cleaned up the mess and opened the store as usual.

“They were shocked to see that we were open because they wanted to get fingerprints,” he said.

But Paljevic believed the amount of money the business would lose by staying closed during its morning hours would cost more than the damage from the burglary.

The cost to fix the broken glass door, replace the cash boxes and the amount of stolen money totaled about $1,500, Paljevic said.

In the 19 years Paljevic has been with Conti’s, there had been one other burglary attempt, but the suspect was scared off by the alarm without stealing anything after cutting the glass.

This time, however, the suspect seemed unbothered.

“I think they (perpetrators) know that the police response time is so delayed that they literally have time to do what they want,” Paljevic said. “I mean the guy came in and took his sweet time.”

The suspect put the two cash registers in a laundry bag and threw it over his shoulder “like he was Santa Claus” and walked off “very, very calmly,” Paljecvic added.

He didn’t stop to grab a snack for the road, however.

“No pastries were touched or harmed in this process,” Paljevic said with a laugh.

The door smashed at Chocolate Place, 839 Morris Park Ave. Photo courtesy Morris Park BID

Just last month, on Feb. 26, police received a similar complaint regarding a burglary at nearby Chocolate Place, at 839 Morris Park Ave.

According to the police report, the business closed on Friday, Feb. 25 and when the complainant arrived shortly after 9 a.m. the next morning, the glass door was smashed. The cash register, along with $150, were allegedly gone. There have also been no arrests made in that incident.

The Chocolate Place declined to comment for this article.

Morris Park Business Improvement District Executive Director Camelia Tepelus said in an interview with the Bronx Times that she believes the businesses were targeted because the storefronts are well-maintained — so people may expect they have a lot of money — and don’t have security gates, which she said most businesses on the corridor have.

“They become an easier target than when you see a full gate — full metal — storefront,” she said. “So in the middle of the night, you can just throw a stone and open the door basically.”

But Paljevic has purposefully avoided installing gates, because he thinks they take away from the beauty of the neighborhood. He isn’t sure if Conti’s will install a gate in response to the burglary, but if they do, he would choose an indoor gate instead of tampering with the outdoor appearance of the storefront.

Tepelus said local business owners want more of a police presence along the corridor — a sentiment the Conti’s owner expressed to the Bronx Times also. However, storefront burglaries are uncommon in Morris Park, according to Tepelus.

Councilmember Marjorie Velázquez, a Democrat whose district encompasses both storefronts, said she has the business owners’ backs.

“Residents of Morris Park deserve to feel safe in their neighborhood,” Velázquez said in a statement to the Bronx Times. “I’ve been working with the Borough President’s office to provide the 49th Precinct with the resources they need to catch the culprits of these recent burglaries.”

This story was updated on Wednesday, March 16 at 9:30 p.m. to reflect further clarification over when police officers arrived at the scene.

Reach Aliya Schneider at aschneider@schnepsmedia.com or (718) 260-4597. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes.

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