ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – An Albuquerque couple was targeted by a heinous crime. The small business owners went into work to find hateful, racist messages spray-painted all over their walls, on nearly every surface of their salon.
Spray-painted graffiti says things like, ‘Get Out,’ ‘Leave,’ and ‘Die.’
“Oh my goodness, this is terrible,” said LouAnn Shafer, a long-time customer of the Pretty Nail Spa in northeast Albuquerque.
The damage gets worse. Someone painted racial slurs against Asians over a massive, hand-painted mural, and all over rooms and surfaces in the nail salon.
“I think it’s jarring to have someone, to know that somebody was in there who wants you to die,” said Dr. Gaylina Reachi. “That is a scary thing.”
Frequent customers like Reachi are in shock. “They’re just very sweet, hard working people,” Reachi said of the salon’s owners. “This threw me, it was so disturbing.”
The Pretty Nail Spa off Juan Tabo is owned by a Vietnamese couple. Someone broke into their shop two weeks ago, and painted hateful messages on mirrors, cabinets, doors, stone countertops and ripped televisions off the walls.
The owners didn’t want to go on camera, and were very upset by the vandalism. They told KRQE News 13, not only did this hurt their business, it hurt their family.
The nail salon has had to stay open with the vandalism on the walls, while they wait for insurance money to repair damages.
“It kills their livelihood, especially if they had to shut down like she said for a week or so,” said Shafer.
The owners told KRQE News 13 they’re embarrassed customers have to see the racist graffiti. However, an estimate shows it’ll cost more than $6,000 just to re-paint the mural, and that doesn’t include other damages.
A letter from a Farmers Insurance representative to the shop owner states, “As no suspect has been identified or apprehended, I am closing my file at this time.” An insurance representative told KRQE News 13 Thursday, that letter is in reference to the deductible only. Farmers Insurance said they issued a check to the couple for damages, and have been working with the shop owners on the claims process.
Salon owners told KRQE News 13 the shop is their sole income, and they support children. The owners said they’ve had break-ins in the past, but it’s never been this bad.
Albuquerque Police said they’re investigating this as a hate crime, and may get the FBI involved.
Reachi and her husband said they still can’t believe someone would do this. “Albuquerque is an incredibly diverse area,” she said. “It’s just not what you expect.”
Reachi has a message for the person(s) responsible: “Hate is a very hard thing to overcome, and if that’s really what’s filling your heart, you need to get help, because there’s something seriously wrong.”
Shafer said she’d like to see the culprits not only pay for damages, but clean the salon. “I just hope that somebody will follow through, it’s not fair for a small business to be treated like this,” she added.
On top of the vandalism, the thieves stole TVs, cash, and broke some of the salon chairs and equipment.
The business owners do have surveillance cameras, but a piece of equipment was broken, so there’s no video of the crime. APD is asking anyone with information about this crime to call 242-COPS or Crimestoppers.
UPDATE: Thursday afternoon, a representative from Farmers Insurance notified KRQE News 13, they issued a check for damages done to the nail salon, and continue to work the the shop owners. The letter showed in the story is in reference to the deductible claim, and is not a claim denial.