CALLAHAN, Fla. – An adult arcade in Callahan was broken into and ransacked early Tuesday morning, several hours after Nassau County commissioners weighed a proposal to impose stricter regulations on such businesses.
Deputies were called to the Spin City Arcade along U.S. 1 early Tuesday morning in response to a break-in, according to Sheriff Bill Leeper. Once there, they found that someone had shattered a glass door to the business and ransacked the place. Deputies believe the burglar was driving a blue sedan.
The burglary came after commissioners met Monday evening to discuss a proposal to ban simulated gambling devices and classify them as a public nuisance. Among other things, a draft version of the measure suggested the devices have a negative impact on the community and quality of life there.
The room was split over what should be done with the businesses.
Commissioners recently introduced a proposal to ban game rooms and classify them as a public nuisance after a recent uptick in violent crimes.
“If there is crime they should probably look at it and make it more safe,” said resident Brian Delettre.
Katherine Parker says she frequents games rooms and never feels unsafe.
“I feel safe here," Parker said. "I can play with my back to that door or I can play with my face at that door and I’m not scared to come here. I’m not scared to go to any of these game rooms around here.”
Joe Lutz manages the Cyber Center.
He says inside, it’s a family.
Lutz feels not all game rooms should be punished for the crimes that have happened at other arcades.
“We’ve got hired security from night to daylight, we don’t allow drugs, we watch big time,” Lutz said.
Many feel the arcades are a great place for seniors to socialize.
“If these places get closed down, where are these people going to go?" Parker said. "It’s sort of like a brightness for them to be able to come here and get to talk with other people. I think everything needs to be reconsidered before they just slam our doors on us.”
Parker said shutting down the arcades would be a loss for the community.
Lutz said they do so much more outside of the game room by donating to the community and local schools. He said he is extremely close to his customers and it would be upsetting to see all of that taken away.
According to the Sheriff’s Office, deputies witnessed drug sales and prostitution while performing undercover surveillance at 28 of the arcades operating in the county. The agency said three of the business have been hit in armed robberies this year.
The move to regulate simulated gambling devices in Nassau comes after Jacksonville shut down adult arcades in October. No action was taken at Monday’s meeting, but the topic is expected to be heard again on Jan. 27.