CARLSBAD — Bart Billings, owner of Joey’s Smokin’ BBQ, posted surveillance video footage of a bandit-in-action to the restaurant’s Facebook page after finally getting fed-up that his breakfast signs had been stolen for the third time.
“Within two minutes of it going on Facebook, our Website guy got a call saying someone knows who it is,” said Billings.
The next day, Billings cropped a still photo of the suspect, posting that picture on their Facebook page, asking for more people to help identify the suspect. Billings offered a free meal to whoever could help lead to the arrest and conviction of the burglar.
Billings may soon be cooking an all-you-can-eat barbecue meal for someone, as police have identified two people as suspects. The case has been handed over to the district attorney’s office, according to the July 12 Facebook post from Joey’s Smokin’ BBQ.
Billings, a retired Army officer and semi-retired clinical psychologist, became a partner in the restaurant last year, and in April he took over ownership.
“I instituted a breakfast program that includes a brunch on Saturday and Sunday. It has foods such as a BBQ scramble and a torte,” he said.
To help advertise breakfast at the restaurant — which is also a saloon that hosts weekly comedy shows — Billings had a sign made that hung inside the patio area.
“The signs were behind vinyl inside a patio that I pay rent on — it’s not a sign I have hanging on the street,” he said.
The patio dining area is locked and secured, Billings said.
“After two signs were stolen, at $200 each, I figured that was enough and installed a security camera,” he said.
When the third sign was stolen, the camera captured the thief on video.
The security camera video is dated June 21, 2011, 9:43 a.m., and cars are seen driving past the vinyl patio window as a man enters, takes down the sign, folds it and carries it in his arm but fails to exit the same vinyl window he entered. The suspect then exits out of a different window with the sign.
Billings said he notified the Plaza Paseo Real Shopping Center’s security of the burglary, and turned the video into the Carlsbad Police Department.
“We checked with police to see if it’s OK to put the video on Facebook,” Billings said. “So we did.”
Joey’s Smokin’ BBQ is at 6955 El Camino Real.