Several thousand dollars was stolen early Sunday from a Mesa pizza restaurant, which was holding its grand opening celebration this weekend and raising money for the family of two young Mesa boys killed in an automobile crash.
Jennifer Parks, managing partner of Pizza Fusion at 5735 E. McKellips Road, said burglars left “two puncture wounds” as they broke through the wall of the vacant suite next door, then through the wall of her office.
They money they took included some raised by a silent auction held Saturday for the family of Frank "CJ" Smith V, 11, and Nolan Smith, 6, who were killed in a Jan. 9 crash at Elliot and Sossaman roads in southeast Mesa. Parks said she is a step-cousin to the boys’ mother Traci, who was injured in the wreck.
Mesa Police spokesman Sgt. Ed Wessing said via e-mail that there was a burglary at Pizza Fusion this weekend, but further information about the investigation would not be available until Monday.
Parks said the restaurant’s surveillance cameras showed the break-in taking place between midnight and 3 a.m. Sunday, and though there was no information about the getaway vehicle she was hopeful the burglars would be caught.
Not all of the money raised for the Smith family is gone, she said, because a donation jar wasn’t in the store at the time, and “thankfully, a lot of people paid by credit card so not all the money is lost, but a large chunk has been.”
She said Pizza Fusion had pulled together the charitable auction, which included a football signed by Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner, in a matter of eight days.
Pizza Fusion, which opened in November, lost more money today because it couldn’t open until 4 p.m. while police investigated during what was supposed to be a crucial weekend.
Once the restaurant did open, Parks said, the mood among the 25 employees was “a little somber – but that may just be my heart,”
The restaurant will continue to keep the donation jar for the Smiths in the restaurant, she said, and people can give to bank accounts set up for the family at Wells Fargo Bank and Desert Schools Credit Union.
Travis Cuevas, 18, of Mesa was arrested Friday in connection with the Jan. 9 crash.