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Man who burglarized eight Milwaukee businesses says he owed more than $3,000 in drug debt

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MILWAUKEE, Wis. (CBS 58)- Surveillance video shared with CBS 58 appears to show a 63-year-old man stealing money and liquor from several businesses.

Court documents reveal Ira Taylor told police he burglarized the businesses because he was 'frustrated' he owed more than $3,000 to drug dealers. The burglaries happened from June 9 to July 7.

The outdoor bar at St. Paul Fish Company was the first business affected in early June.  St. Paul Fish Company’s surveillance video shows Taylor breaking into outdoor coolers and taking liquor.

"The damage that he did was probably close to $1,000 worth of damage to the equipment that he broke into, plus about another $1,000 in liquor inventory that he got away with," said Patrick Nedobeck, Manager at St. Paul Fish Company.

Nedobeck says he feels violated, but he's not the only one.

Owner of Rec Room Craft Co., Krista Bach, says she was woken up by her business' security system on the Fourth of July. From her home, she was able to watch Taylor breaking in, causing thousands in damages to her new business.

"It's unfortunate that people have problems, but it doesn't give you the right to carte blanche and just take things that don't belong to you,” said Bach.

Investigators say an employee of the Iron Horse Hotel recognized Taylor as a person who lives in an encampment known as "tent city" underneath the Interstate 794 bridge.

Nedobeck says since the encampment has been around, he's seen a number of burglary attempts at his bar.

"Panhandlers and petty crime has gone up since the encampment has popped up,” said Nedobeck. “I don't know if they're related or not, but if I had to guess I would say it probably is."

Taylor burglarized a total of eight businesses and tried to burglarize a ninth one but wasn't successful.

Cafe India in Walker’s Point says they've never seen anything like this happen before. Owner Rakesh Rehan saw Taylor taking the business' cash box while reviewing his surveillance video. 

"I've been in business over here for around ten years and never had this issue,” said Rehan. “What hurt most is that whenever this happened, we could not operate for a half a day or a day."

"It definitely is a lesson learned that you're not necessarily as safe as you think you are," said Bach.

On top of the thousands of dollars in damages, court documents show Taylor took at least $8,000 worth of cash and items.

Business owners say they're glad he's been caught and is behind bars.

"It's definitely a weight and a worry that's lifted off my shoulders with this person being apprehended," adds Bach.

No court date has been set for Taylor.

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