UPDATE | Eagles lodge offers $10,000 reward for useful information about burglary
A $10,000 reward has been offered for the arrest and conviction of a burglar who took at least $100,000 worth of cash from the Fraternal Order of Eagles lodge in New Boston.
The lodge is offering up the reward money, Eagles Secretary Bill Hanley said Thursday.
The burglary happened late last month when someone cut a hole through the back fence of the lodge and went to extreme means to break into the lodge's safe and disable its security system.
As WSAZ reported last month, the haul was more than $100,000, accumulated from a weekly game of chance every Wednesday night called Queen of Hearts. The money keeps rolling over week after week until someone wins the big prize.
Hanley said the thieves clearly knew what they were after.
Anyone with information about the incident is asked to reach out to the New Boston Police Department at (740) 456-4109.
Police in New Boston are investigating an elaborate burglary with a script straight out of a Hollywood heist movie. But it's all too real for the Fraternal Order of Eagles who are out at least $100,000.
"They were good," admits Eagles Secretary Bill Hanley, also a retired Portsmouth police officer. "They knew what they were doing."
First the thieves cut a hole through the back fence sometime between about 12:30 and 5 a.m. Friday.
They unfastened heavy duty screws and peeled back the siding on the building, then cut through insulation.
Most cameras and motion detectors on the premises were left untouched, except one in the public community space that was covered with black spray paint.
Next, they kicked through an interior door, the only one not alarmed. Then they made a hole through not one but two layers of heavy duty sheetrock to get to the trustee’s office.
They bypassed the alarm on the door to get to the 220-pound safe in the trustee's office and used power tools to cut the top off.
Lastly, they threw a chair through the plate glass window into Hanley's office to grab his computer and server for the camera system.
"They knew what they were doing. They knew what they were after," Hanley said.
The haul was more than $100,000, accumulated from a weekly game of chance every Wednesday night called Queen of Hearts. The money keeps rolling over week after week until someone wins the big prize.
"When I got here, I was crushed,” Hanley said. “That was members' money. They didn't steal from the Eagles, they stole from the members."
Investigators said the thieves had to have help from current or former members or employees, a major violation of trust to a place that is supposed to be about friendships, community and charity.
There are more than 700 current members at the Eagles lodge, both male and female, as well as seven current employees.
"It makes me feel terrible."
Hanley said security was pretty good before, but it will be even better from now on.
"If a mouse farts in the club, we'll know it. We'll know it."
While the plot for most Hollywood heists has the thieves getting away, Hanley hopes to flip the script.
"They were good. But every good crime is usually solved,” he said. “Two people knows it. It ain't a secret."
Police said at least two people are involved, perhaps even more.
They are tracking down some leads from surveillance cameras in the area.
Hanley hopes DNA and a footprint left behind at the scene will also help.