My company’s window and faith in Baltimore were shattered 10 days ago | GUEST COMMENTARY

My company’s window and faith in Baltimore were shattered 10 days ago | GUEST COMMENTARY

At 9 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 8, a man chucked a brick through the front window of the Subway on the 300 block of N. Charles Street; stepped inside and helped himself to bags of chips. The next morning, the same individual returned to the scene of his crime, according to a surveillance video I viewed.

Apparently determined to recreate his success of the day before, the man chucked another brick at the carefully decorated, glass front door catty-corner to the window he smashed earlier. The brick bounced off the reinforced glass, cracking, but not breaking, it. The man picked up the brick and again threw it at the door with the same result. Again and again, he tried to break the glass. Then he put down the brick and kicked the door.

Eventually, he picked up his brick, walked a few yards north and aggressively threw it through my company’s holiday-decorated (and expensive) antique, plate glass window. This act of vandalism set off a series of reactions that highlight the best and worst of what Baltimore offers its weary constituents.

Worst: While Baltimore police officers arrived on the scene about 45 minutes after the brick was thrown (I don’t know who called them), they simply wrote a report and made no apparent effort to locate anyone associated with my company, Curry Printing, which is closed on Saturdays.

Our website and phone number were clearly posted on one of the non-smashed windows, and a five-second phone call would have alerted me that my shop was vulnerable to thousands of dollars of damage from heavy rains in the forecast as well as intruders through the shattered window. All the officers did was slide a card under the door with the report number.

Best: One of our clients, who happens to live across the street from our shop, noticed the damage and considerately emailed me. Had he not done so, I would have been unaware of the damage and possibly suffered even greater losses.

Worst: Once again, I found myself driving to work during my weekend time off to investigate and problem-solve another issue created by Baltimore lawbreakers hurting my business.

Best: While a mixed blessing, our city’s glass companies are all too aware of this pervasive “broken window” problem and were able to mobilize within a few hours to come and board up my windows efficiently, if not inexpensively.

Worst: When I assessed the damage and cleaned the glass out of the affected items in my shop, including holiday gifts for clients, I realized that there were large, sharp shards left on the public sidewalk. While it may not be a specific responsibility of police to pick up shattered glass, a call by them to an appropriate city agency would have been helpful. After watching pedestrians walk by, almost stepping on the shards, I called 911 only to be told, in a mocking tone, that the police were not interested in my broken glass problem.

This whole episode, coming after many other acts of lawlessness, large and small, in my stretch of Charles Street, left me deeply disheartened, and the feeling of “the last straw” weighs heavily on me.

Mayor Brandon Scott recently released “Downtown RISE: Roadmap for Investment, Support, and Equity” plan for the city with much fanfare. As a longtime Baltimore business owner and taxpayer, I admit to feeling like this is a splashy announcement unlikely to result in real change. Until the criminals and vandals with bad intent actually see a larger police presence in the Downtown area, until these officers make arrests based on current and legitimate laws enacted by our legislators, until the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s office begins prosecuting these crimes against property to demonstrate their seriousness and act as a deterrent, events like what happened to my shop over the weekend will persist unabated.

Literal “broken window policing” would have decreased the likelihood of Subway and my shop being vandalized. Baltimore City can be so much more. My eternal optimism and hope for a turnaround are the reasons my company has been here on Charles Street for almost 40 years.

My front window was not the only thing this criminal shattered last weekend — my confidence in operating my business in Baltimore City took a serious hit as well.

Paula Fargo is the owner of Curry Printing; her email is

Leave a Message