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Crime

A 20-Year-Old El Monte Small Business Owner Is Closing Shop After Repeated Break-Ins

12:13 PM PDT on August 8, 2022

Exchanged Hype, a shop specializing in high-demand sneakers and footwear in South El Monte, has had it with repeated break-ins and attempted robberies.

The 20-year-old owner and local Efrain Gonzalez has now shut the doors to his store after only a half-year open, taking a viable business off the Garvey Avenue block and going into an online-only model.

In a video posted to Exchanged Hype's Instagram, Gonzalez posted a video three days ago showing a trio of thieves milling outside of the storefront, scouting out it amidst an apparently empty Tito's Plaza.

After a few moments, the footage cuts to a scene of broken glass on the ground, as one of the would-be bandits holds what appears to be a tool used to break in. A high-pitch whine from the shop appears to drive them away, though it's unclear if the suspects breached the shop's threshold.

This weekend's robbery attempt follows an actual robbery of merchandise that occurred not long after the store debuted. Between damages and loss of merchandise, Gonzalez says he's lost about $10,000 to these crimes.

Encouraging anyone who recognizes the sneaker thieves to contact him or the El Monte police, Gonzalez writes:

Financially and mentally I don’t think we can stay here anymore. I love the things we had here as a store and a physical location and hope to keep the connection l built with everyone but we are not going to have a physical store anymore. I will list all items and do an online store only. I love everyone of you guys haters or not. I tried and it just wasn’t the time to have a store of my own yet.

“I don’t feel safe to be here anymore, and it’s just sad... My door’s broken, my gate’s broken, glass broken, the floor’s broken — there’s a little hole — my shoes are scattered everywhere,” Gonzalez told KTLA.

Exchanged Hype started online in 2017, when Gonzalez was still in his early teens, selling in-demand Jordans, Dunks, special edition Vans, and glow-in-the-dark Yeezy slides to the sneakerheads who covet them.

Although he says "it hurts" a lot to close the brick-and-mortar store, he's already announced the retreat to an online-only business again on his social media.

His next challenge looks to be convincing net shoppers who are weary of online shopping scams of his efficacy and reliability as an online vendor, with fans and customers alike currently leaving testaments to his follow-through and dedication.

El Monte, meanwhile, appears to have possibly lost a business with a strong following permanently due to the actions of a few greedy crooks. Among the commentors on Gonzalez's post showing the robbery attempt, one follower claims their mom owns the neighboring pharmacy and writes, "those same dudes broke into the place a few months ago, and we never caught them."

For his part, Gonzalez says he has filled out police reports and is asking for the public's help in catching the perpetrators.

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