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Oca Mocha was broken into late Friday night, the individual stealing 250 dollars and damaging the interior.

After burglary, community shows up for OCA Mocha

OCA Mocha, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County student-created coffee shop in Arbutus, was broken into late night on Friday, Oct. 2. The burglar, who was caught on OCA Mocha security cameras damaged several doors and glass windows and stole 250 dollars from the cash register. The store closed Saturday to assess the damage and begin repairs, it opened at 8 a.m. on Sunday with the office section closed off and continues to operate under normal hours as they finish rebuilding throughout this week.

The burglar first shattered the front outside glass door to access OCA Mocha’s lobby before cracking the second door that leads into OCA Mocha enough to unlock it. In the five to ten minutes they were inside, they used a crowbar to open the register and kicked in several doors, breaking their frames. They also shattered a custom glass pane to access the OCA Mocha office space.

None of the art displayed in OCA Mocha’s “Art in During the Time of COVID-19” exhibit was damaged or stolen. All the art for their upcoming exhibit is also safe.

A barista and co-founder Deep Patel found the damage Saturday morning and called UMBC Police, Baltimore County Police and co-founder Michael Berardi. Since OCA Mocha is UMBC property, the case is continuing to be handled by UMBC Police. 

“This is absolutely an unsettling situation,” said Berardi. “Nobody ever wants to hear that there are robberies in their neighborhood.”

OCA Mocha’s Instagram notified customers on Saturday that the break-in occurred, Berardi explaining that they wanted to be as transparent as possible with the community. He hopes that the post will help catch the person that broke in and help protect others from having this happen to them.

As a result of the break-in, OCA Mocha increased the number of security cameras, adding some that have motion sensors that will notify the co-founders if they sense any movement after-hours. The shop will also stop storing any cash after closing and will post signs that state that they do not keep cash inside the building.

While Berardi is upset over the break-in, he and his team are trying to focus on the positives. 

“The beautiful thing is, today [Sunday], actually, was our best day of sales since reopening [in] June,” said Berardi.

Berardi explained that this is only one of the ways the Arbutus and UMBC community have shown up for OCA Mocha. After posting about the break-in, Berardi said there was an outpouring of community support, many followers offering to help pay for repairs. While Berardi hopes that the insurance deductible will cover the cost of repairs, if it comes down to a GoFundMe campaign, he is confident that the community will help out.

“That’s heartwarming, and it shows us that the work we do matters and that people are understanding about what we’re really trying to do, that we’re really more than a coffee shop,” said Berardi. “To be able to get that message out and to have people want to be a part of what we’re doing and recognize the bigger picture is really encouraging, it’s really heartwarming and it’s exactly what we envisioned when we were thinking about opening this space.”