EVERETT — Evergreen Way was still dark. The majority of work in flower shops is done early in the morning.
They knew something was wrong when they drove up Wednesday.
The sign was unlit.
Ernie and Cindy Frederickson have owned Everett Floral for 28 years. They have paid about $1 million in recent years to repair damages caused by arson, vandalism and burglary, as well as to beef up their security measures.
This time, the couple arrived at work to find their power meter missing, and their shop in the dark.
Someone had ripped it off the wall the night before, Everett police officer Aaron Snell said.
As dangerous as it might be, the person was probably trying to cut the power to the shop’s security alarm, Cindy Frederickson said.
“It’s a 400-amp unit. It will turn you to toast,” Ernie Frederickson said.
Neil Neroutsos, a Snohomish County Public Utility District spokesman, said this type of theft does happen, but it isn’t a regular occurrence.
About 50 power meters have been stolen or removed without PUD permission throughout the county this year. The utility company monitors more than 340,000 power meters, Neroutsos said.
The couple used the light from their cellphones to navigate around tables and plants. They lit up a candelabra and placed smaller candles around the shop until power was restored.
“This morning, there was a fleeting moment of thinking, how much I can take?” Cindy Frederickson said.
Five years ago, their flower shop was gutted by fire. A 15-year-old boy was convicted of arson.
Everett Floral was out of business for a year while they rebuilt and acquired permits. This process cost about $800,000.
Since then, two of their delivery vans have been vandalized. One couldn’t be repaired after someone messed with the electrical system and took the battery.
Last year a person broke into the shop through a window, stealing cash registers and the money inside.
Cindy and Ernie Frederickson installed thick bars on the back windows, double locks, motion detectors and an alarm.
“Short of putting a big metal cage around the building, I don’t know what you can do,” Cindy Frederickson said.
On Wednesday morning, for the first time, she thought about moving. But this is where her children grew up.
Cindy and Ernie Frederickson had bought the shop years ago from a friend who became ill. He had requested that Cindy take over the business.
She temporarily put on hold her schooling to become a psychologist while she transitioned into a business owner role.
Her two sons, now 21 and 25, spent much of their childhood running around the flower shop.
“What they see is their parents working hard and when vandalism or fires happen, it’s hard on them,” Cindy Frederickson said.
Her sons stopped by Wednesday to check in on their mother.
Repeatedly being targeted by crooks makes Ernie Frederickson re-evaluate. He wonders why he continues to put so much effort into the business.
He survived a stroke earlier this year. Cindy Frederickson is scheduled for a knee replacement surgery later this month. And their 21-year-old son was infected with Chikungunya virus two years ago on a trip to Haiti. He wound up having to leave his job at the Puget Sound Blood Center.
“He has a few good days, and then some bad days,” Cindy Frederickson said.
She and her husband take turns staying home with him.
Thieves don’t see the family behind the storefront, she said.
Caitlin Tompkins: 425-339-3192; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reporter Rikki King contributed to this story.