Ex-employee charged in shop break-in

Police have increased their presence on high-tourist Market Street after two store break-ins on July 16.

Recent burglaries on Market Street haven’t raised much cause for alarm, several shop managers said in the hub of downtown’s tourist district.

Police have charged James Blake, 30, of Charleston, with second-degree burglary in connection with a break-in at The Fudgery, at 90 N. Market St.

A former employee of the shop, he is accused of stealing about $340 from two of the shop’s cash registers, police spokesman Charles Francis said.

Blake is on probation for strong-arm robbery for a previous case and is being held at the Charleston County jail.

Like every Monday, the shop’s manager, Jacob Potvin, came to work at 6:30 a.m. July 16 to do inventory, but he ended up making a call to police instead when he noticed broken glass and damage to the business’ door.

Potvin said he is frustrated by the blow to the business, which has been open for only a few months, but he said he has no ill feelings toward the suspect, and he isn’t concerned about possible break-ins moving forward.

“I can’t really think about that,” Potvin said. “The success of the store is my top priority.”

Police heightened their presence on Market Street since the burglary, Francis said. However, the manager of The Peanut Shop nearby, at 92 N. Market St., said she doesn’t think that’s needed.

“Around here (police) are probably only going to stand around getting asked where’s the nearest bathroom,” Deanne Ramsey said, citing the area’s high tourist population. “The meter-maid’s all I ever really see.”

The Fudgery wasn’t the first break-in reported on Market Street the morning of July 16. Police responded to the Gucci store at Charleston Place, 132 Market St., after an alarm was triggered about 5:48 a.m.

The store’s Market Street side display window was shattered and several belts were dropped around the store’s steps in a hasty dash to the street, a police report stated.

Police thought the two cases may have been related, Francis said, but that theory was dismissed when surveillance video showed at least two other male suspects commit the Gucci store burglary.

The suspects wore all black and were in the store for about 90 seconds, the report stated. In that time $48,170 worth of merchandise was stolen, including several handbags, jackets and belts.

Both cases are still under investigation, Francis said.