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Double damage: Crime, car wreck make for busy time at one shop

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By Nancy Kennedy

HERNANDO — On Monday, Gus Breitweg, owner of Gus’s Gold & Gems in the Shoppes at Citrus Hills Plaza in Hernando, was still reeling from the events of last week.

First, on Tuesday, his shop was burglarized in the early morning hours — someone smashed his glass front door, entered the store, smashed a glass case and stole some erchandise.

“We get the door and the case replaced, everything cleaned up, everything’s good, we’ll get through this,” he said, “then on Friday, around 5:30, I was in the back doing paperwork and heard a loud boom.”

He went on to describe what happened: An elderly man in a vehicle was in the parking lot, facing his store, and drove through a row of hedges, jumped the curb, ran through his front window, then through the wall adjoining Citrus Hills Nail Salon.

“It was a mess,” Breitweg said. “I was shocked. We just got everything cleaned up from the burglary, and then this. But we’re hanging in there.”

Next door at the nail salon, the damage was more extensive, including injuries to the owner, Thi Lee O, and several customers, according to an employee, who said the car traveled between two concrete pillars out in front of the stores and then between two pillars inside the nail salon, hit the reception desk and pushed it and three other desks into a raised island in the center of the store, where the car finally stopped.

The driver and his passenger, an elderly woman, were trapped inside the car until rescue workers could get them out.

Due to holiday staffing at the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office, an official report was not available Monday.

Chronicle reporter Nancy Kennedy can be reached at nkennedy@chronicleonline.com or 352-564-2927.