Multiple bar break-ins, thefts in southern Illinois target gaming machines

Published: Nov. 1, 2021 at 5:14 PM CDT|Updated: Nov. 1, 2021 at 5:32 PM CDT
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MCLEANSBORO, Ill. (KFVS) - Southern Illinois bar owners want answers after a string of break-ins and thefts.

According to police, there’s a common theme. The majority of the thieves go straight for money in gaming machines.

“We knew it would be a matter of time before they would probably try to break into ours,” said Lynn Bouseman.

Bouseman said her phone rang at about 4:30 in the morning, and she immediately knew thieves broke into her bar, The Liquor Hut.

“And then I looked on my cameras on my phone, and I could see the one guy in the gaming room tearing up the machines,” she said.

Her Mcleansboro bar is the latest target in a rash of thefts impacting bars in southern Illinois.

“You just feel like you’ve been violated, because we work, we work hard to build our business, and we’re proud of what we do. So, why are you trying to steal from us,” said Bouseman.

“You always think that everything’s fine and will be fine, and it’s just kind of a sense of security that you don’t have anymore,” said Diana Robinson.

Robinson’s bar in Whittington, The Barn Bar, was hit on October 11. She said the thieves broke in through a window and stole between $10 to 15,000 in cash from the gaming machines.

“They were just destroyed,” she said.

Chief Deputy Kyle Bacon with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office said they’re investigating what happened.

According to Bacon, authorities are looking into multiple, recent incidents in surrounding counties, and the majority of them involve bars with gaming machines.

“I think somebody knows something, and maybe somebody will talk, ‘cause there’s so many of us that have now been hit,” said Bouseman.

“You’re scared if you’ve been hit, because they’ve went back to the same place multiple times, or if you haven’t been hit, it’s kinda like who’s gonna be next,” said Robinson.

Robinson said she does not let anyone work alone at night now. If you have any information about the break-ins, call the Hamilton or Franklin County Sheriff Departments.

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