By Brian Maass

AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – When a trio of heavily armed burglars broke into his auto body shop on April 11, owner Mohamed Mouaddine was on a plane, but was automatically notified of the break-in. After he landed, he viewed surveillance video of what went on at his Aurora business.

“It’s a little bit terrifying,” said Mouaddine.

In what he described as a well-organized commando-style entrance into his business, the intruders smashed through a garage door, then spent about a half-hour inside the shop loading customers’ cars up with tools, computers, catalytic converters, parts, and other accessories. They then drove away in customers’ cars, stealing two cars in all.

“I was shocked like everyone when I saw the footage,” said Mouaddine.

In a video provided to CBS4, the men are seen brandishing weapons during the burglary. One of them is armed with a pistol and a second gun. Two are wearing gloves and masks.

(credit: CBS)

“They didn’t bring them to scare people, they bring them to use them,” said Mouaddine

Mouaddine believes the intruders would have shot anyone they found inside, but the business was empty at 5 a.m. and nobody was hurt.

“I think if anybody walked into the building I’m 100% sure they would be dead,” said Mouaddine.

Still, the incident has Mouaddine rattled to the point he is considering relocating his business. He says he has been burglarized several times before, but never by such heavily armed bandits.

(credit: CBS)

After 11 years in the same location, Mouaddine now says his office manager will no longer come in early in the morning or stay late. Another employee now comes to work armed with a handgun.

“I think being soft on crime got us here,” said Mouaddine.

“I think inflation got us here. I think the cost of living got us here,” he added.

The crew that hit Mouaddine’s business apparently struck another auto store in Denver at around the same time, smashing through a door and stealing customers’ cars according to an employee.

Mouaddine estimates his losses and damage will run about $200,000, although he says he has a good insurance policy.

Aurora police told CBS4 they could not comment since there was an active investigation underway. A metro area auto theft task force is also involved in the investigation.

Crime statistics for Aurora from Jan. 1, 2021, through Sept. 30, 2021, show property crimes rose 20.1% from 2020 and burglaries rose 5.2% from 2020. Violent crimes rose 14.1% from 2020 through 2021.

Brian Maass