Businesses offer reward for information about downtown burglary

Authored by Jim Langham on Oct 19, 2011

Three local businesses are offering a combined reward of $1,000 for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of an individual or individuals who broke into their establishments Monday night or early Tuesday morning.
State Farm Insurance, located on Water Street; Sport Form, located on Sprunger Street; and Bixler Insurance, located on Main Street were all broken into. Minimal amounts of money were stolen from State Farm and Sport Form. At Bixler Insurance, burglars attempted to unsuccessfully break into the safe. However, nothing was actually stolen from that business.
Gregg Drake, owner of State Farm Insurance, said that he had gone to his office at approximately 5:30 a.m. to get some papers he had planned to take back home and work on. However, when he arrived, he discovered that his front door and door frame had been completely destroyed.
Upon investigation, Drake discovered that a minimal amount of cash had been stolen.
"It appeared that they were only looking for cash," said Drake. "Nothing else was disturbed.
"There is very little exchange of cash in this office," said Drake. "Most payments are mailed directly to State Farm or premiums are transferred electronically. Any cash that is in the office is deposited each day at the bank. Very little is left in the office."
Ladonna Habegger had a similar experience when she walked into her Sport Form business at 8:30 a.m.
"I walked in and looked to the right and I said, 'I did not leave that door open.' I looked to the left and that door was open, too," said Habegger. "Then I saw the police over at Bixler's. I noticed that their door on the parking lot was torn open."
Then Habegger noticed that the cash register was missing and that someone had taken scissors and cut the cord in order to remove it.
"The strange thing is that they could have just unplugged it," continued Habegger. "I'm glad that they didn't tear up things."
Habegger said that she examined the clothing hanging throughout the store; it didn't appear that any clothes had been stolen.
Matt Lehman said that he received a call from an employee at 7:45 a.m. informing him that it appeared that the business (Bixler Insurance) had been broken into.
"They had kicked in two doors to get into the building," said Lehman. "They had tried to break into the safe, but they were not successful. It appeared that they had used something like a sledgehammer to try to break in.
"It' was pretty obvious that they were just looking for cash," continued Lehman. "There were other things around that could have been taken but they didn't touch them. They left the office undisturbed."
The robberies are currently under investigation by the Berne Police Department. Calls to the department concerning the incidents were not returned to the newspaper.

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