Surveillance video released by the St. Louis County Police Department
on Wednesday shows looters at the Dellwood Market, just outside Ferguson, Missouri, following the November 24 grand jury decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson
in the August death of teenager Michael Brown.
A group of men is seen in the video futilely trying to break down the reinforced door. They pull and pull. With a stick or metal rod, they try to pry the door open. When all those efforts fail, they shatter a glass pane in the display window and barrel through a sheet of plywood behind the glass.
A wave of looters -- at least 180, according to St. Louis County police -- can be seen in the video pouring into the small business. For several minutes, they are seen walking back out the way they came in. Some carry bottles of liquor and other merchandise; others haul boxes of goods. Stragglers arrive late and take some of what little is left.
The owner of Dellwood Market, a family-owned business, was home watching the looting live on his surveillance system.
"My dad has had this place for 25 years," said Jan Lalani, 33, who took over the market about a year ago. "It's been his livelihood for a long time."
During three bouts of looting between the time Brown was shot in the summer of 2014 and November's grand jury decision, Lalani estimates the business sustained about $300,000 in damages and losses.
"The first time we were hit in August it was like watching an action movie from Hollywood," Lalani said. "In November, it was more the thought, 'Oh my God, not again.' I didn't even know what to think."
The surveillance video released by police only shows about five minutes of what happened that November night but, Lalani said, the looting started about 11 p.m. and continued until about 6 a.m. He estimates that more than 300 people ransacked the store during that time.
"I was at home looking at it while it was going on," Lalani said.
St. Louis County Police are making video and still images
of the Dellwood incident and others public in hopes of arresting some of the looters.
Shawn McGuire, a police spokesman, said the release of the videos has taken time because detectives not only are working the looting cases but also current crimes. They hope people in the community will help identify the looters.
"It's pretty shocking," McGuire said. "Even if we get one person identified from releasing the video it's a success."
The St. Louis Economic Development Partnership estimates that about 250 businesses in the area were affected by the disturbances from August through November, including looting, vandalism and other damage. The group is still working on a monetary estimate of the loses, partnership spokeswoman Kathryn Jamboretz said.
At Dellwood Market, looters ran off with everything from toothpaste to cigarettes to frozen foods.
Of some 2,000 bottles of liquor on the shelves, Lalani said, only about 40 remained that November morning.
Still, Lalani said his family was fortunate. Looters twice tried to set the market on fire. Both times, he said, police officers arrived shortly after to extinguish the flames.
"For me, personally, thinking about coming in to work is not the same," Lalani said. "But my relationship with the customers is still the same. We have so many great people coming in and showing their support and giving us hope."