Lyle's Blog

Here we go again

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I learned in College that the first thing you do in business when looking for a place to run it is: Location, Location, Location. It seems that must have been taught in burglary school also. For the fourth time in four years and the second time in eight months, we have been hit again.

Believe me, being the first story on both TV stations is not what I wanted this week. Let me walk you through at least a part of my day on Sunday.

I was awoken around 4:30 by Ted, our cook who opens on Sunday morning. "Lyle, we have been broken into.", he told me. "Are you sure?", I asked. "Yes", he answered, "they came in through the door to the deck. I have already called the police and they are on their way."

I jumped up and threw on my clothes. As I backed out of the drive, I was calling security. I told them who I was and asked them about any alarms at the diner. The told me that the security had been set sometime after ten pm the night before. As we talked, the told me that alarms were going off as we speak. "That must be the police.", I said. "It seems that we were broken into and the alarms did not go off.".

I arrived at the diner with police cars everywhere. The police asked me to stay outside until they had secured the building. I walked around the side of the building and looked over a broken in glass door from the deck area. I could not see inside and began to wonder about what I would see. I began to physically shake and could not believe that such a thing could happen to us again. I called the security again and told them that I needed to find out how this could be that none of the motion detectors had gone off. She had no explanation and promised to send a service rep down to look it over.

The police invited me in to turn off the alarms but wanted the break in area to be secure as they were bringing in their fingerprint people. I could not believe how trashed the site was with boards, papers, coin, and a broken register laying on the floor. I begged the officer to at least let me look over at the safe and was relieved to see that although the dial was off, the safe was secure. Not that they could have gotten much from it as the only thing in it was the money needed to start the business off for the day.

I told the police that I had cameras and they asked me to show one of them. I was still walking around in somewhat of a funk and I remember apologising to many people for what, I cannot remember. Slowly, I began to pull my thoughts together and I told the police that I needed to set up a register area for my cashier so that we could get ready for the busiest day of the week. I sent Ted into the kitchen to get all ready there and instructed Toni, the waitress, who was already solving the crime for us to make the floor ready for serving.

I grabbed an old register from storage and placed it out on the counter. I then found the phone extension cord that we had used during our remodel last year and brought the visa machine out to the same counter area. With all of the papers needed to complete the cashiers job, I then went to the police and told them that I was ready to look at the video.

We set the video back to around 3 AM and soon found the two burglars coming into view. The calmly walked into the cashier area and began destroying everything in sight. They threw papers and boards. They pried open the tip safe and stole the envelopes of tips left over from waitresses that had left before the end of their shift. One grabbed the chair and threw it out of the station. They worked but seemed to have no worries of time. They left the station for a few minutes and I can only assume it was when they busted into the stuffed animal machine. They then came back into view as they returned from the kitchen with a hammer and one of them began working on the safe while the other looked for anything else that he could find on the counter. That man took quite a bit of time banging on the can that the vets have left to collect money to help homeless vets in the area. He banged and pried and seem to spend more time on this can than he had anything else. He finally broke in through the top and pulled out a bill or two. As I later looked at that can, it became the light point that allowed Judy and I to walk through this stressful time better. He had spent so much time on that can for a dollar or two while all he would have had to do was turn it over and pop the access cover off on the bottom. On Monday, KOHD came in and we talked about this same can on air. "Let's embarrass this guy.", she said. That same guy later turned on the light and looked up right around the camera area not even noticing that it was there. Soon afterwards, the other turned off the light and they made one more pass before leaving the building.

The police asked for a copy of the taping and so I went out and purchased a recorder from Walmart. Before I left, I called Jim in and he went to work securing the back door so that our perimeter could be complete again. He had the door finished before I returned and Canyon, the fingerprint specialist, who just so happens to be married to a distant cousin of mine was about to leave. He had worked very hard to pull every shred of evidence that he could. I thanked him for coming in on his time off to handle this and for getting the job done so that I could open up for business.

Customers started rolling in and shaken employees manned their various posts. Judy did a tremendous job of keeping the crew focused while I made copies of the surveillance video. Ricci and Kara showed up shortly. Both of them are a part of the swing crew and often responsible for setting security. I assured them that they had set things properly the night before and that a tech would be in shortly to see if he could figure out the problem there.

They asked if they could look around and were soon calling me on the phone. They asked me to come out behind the building and they showed me where the burglars had thrown the hammer on their way out. Soon an officer was back for evidence and after further look, my two detectives had found the gloves of one of the criminals also.

I made a couple of copies for the police, one for Chris (our own video expert), and one for myself. All during this time, I would go out into the diner while the taping was going on and help out with the crowd there. I remember walking in the back door once while someone was talking about it with one of our waitstaff. "Ask him yourself.", she said, "But he has a smile on his face, so he must be OK.". I smiled and nodded and told them that their wasn't much that I could do so why not smile.

Some of the crew had cleaned up the cashier station and we soon discovered that the register was still working. So, after cleaning it up, we loaded it up from the other makeshift till and kept on working, bringing in the cashier back into his station. He worked on taking in the money while cleaning up his area.

I tried calling one of those 24 hour emergency glass places but they did not answer their phone and Jim had done such a good job on the door, I decided to wait until Monday.

Kara soon called me back again and told me that she noticed that the register was already on the floor when the robbers came in. So, back to the recording, I began to work backwards and sure enough, the robbers had come in hard shortly after 2, stayed for a couple of minutes while destroying as much as they could and robbing the Habitat Money box that was on the counter due to the problems from the break in back in November.

I then called the police and made them a copy of this entry also. The business began to start to slow down and the crew began to clean up from the busy day. I wanted to just keep busy just to keep me more focused so I shortly went home with Judy but left there and took over some plants for Carrie to plant in her yard. As I walked in the door, she asked me about my shirt. I looked down and discovered that in my hast that morning, I had buttoned it wrong with one side lower than the other. I had walked around all day that way, talking to customers and police with no one telling me of my oddity. I laughed and just left it that way.

Around three, I met up with one of our old cooks who is coming back to work with us and was coming in to clean the kitchen after closing up. I worked out in the office as he began his work and shortly noticed that he was the only crew member left so I asked him to call me when he was done.

I then drove over to the china doll for a bit of supper and took it home, eating it while watching a movie and waiting for the call. With the show over, and the employee still not calling, I drove back to the diner and sent him home for the night. Before he left, we checked out the video only finding that the alarms were still acting up. I sent the employee home and called the alarm company again. The tech called me and we agreed that their was nothing we could do that evening but would address the issue first thing Monday morning.

With that, I went home and to a fit full night of sleep.

The assessment?

A broken door that can be fixed. A banged up register that still works. Drawers and papers now back in and organized. A banged up safe that has been fixed and is now secure again. The robbers had spent nearly forty five minutes in our place trying to get as much money as they could. They ended up with less than a hundred dollars and allot of frustration. Our safe had held and we are still in business. And we have now added yet more security. So...for now, I guess we just wait until the next time.

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