Thief breaks into beloved, family-owned restaurant in Chandler

The owners of Elmer’s Tacos in Chandler are reeling after someone broke into their business Monday night, ransacking the place and stealing sentimental items.
Published: Aug. 9, 2022 at 9:03 PM MST
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CHANDLER, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - A family-owned restaurant in Chandler is reeling after someone broke into their business late Monday night, ransacking the place and stealing sentimental items. Elmer’s Tacos has been on Arizona Avenue in downtown Chandler for almost 50 years. They said it’s a big blow.

The business was passed down to Tyler Cuen and his sister, Lisa Cuen Rodriguez, from their dad, Elmer. “It just hurts your family, hurts your heart,” Lisa said. “I wish that he knew that taking people’s things that work so hard every day to carry a legacy really hurts other people,” she continued.

Lisa said employees who arrived early Tuesday morning to prep food found the damage. “He must have pried something through the door and then busted it open somehow,” she explained of the back door. “All the register drawers were pulled out, money, the change was there but they were looking for money, they broke the back door, the broke the door to the office completely ransacked the whole office looking for the safe,” she said.

The family captured the suspect on a surveillance camera in the back. They said he then cut the power to the business. Chandler Police confirm they’re investigating the break-in.

The most heartbreaking part, Lisa said the thief stole knives their dad and a former longtime chef handed down to her brother. “They were the only things that were left of both of them and that he physically had, and now they’re gone. It’s been a really rough day. It’s been an emotional day,” Lisa said.

Lisa posted about the ordeal on Facebook. Customers made sure to stop in. “This is an icon in Chandler. This feels bad when you go and hear about someone breaking into a place that you frequently come to,” Gerry Backhaus said.

Lisa said she’s grateful no one was injured in this. Between repairing the damage and replacing the knives and other items, she estimates the ordeal will cost them about $8,000. She’s hoping someone recognizes the guy and calls police.