GREENVILLE — When cook Cathy Patterson arrived for her morning shift at The Other Place bar and restaurant around 8:40 a.m. Friday, as she normally does as the first employee to arrive, she didn’t anticipate walking in through an opened and unlocked door.
Patterson walked into the restaurant at 609 N. Lafayette St. only to find that the establishment had been broken into, with contents from the cash drawer and safe missing.
“When I came to the door I could see that it was open and unlocked,” Patterson said. “I thought maybe the workers who closed last night just forgot to lock the door, but then I walked into the bar area and realized that we had been robbed.”
A large safe had been dislodged from its original location and moved across the restaurant. When Patterson discovered the safe, it sat on its side on the floor of the dining area, smashed in with more than 20 indentation marks of forced entry.
Broken pieces of concrete from the inside of the door of the safe were sprawled out across the floor, with slight damage done to the flooring and some seats in the dining area.
An undisclosed amount of money from the cash register drawer and safe were stolen.
Patterson immediately called Debra Elderkin, owner of the restaurant, before dialing 911 to report the break-in. When Elderkin arrived, she could barely believe her eyes.
“This is a nightmare,” she said. “I’ve owned this place 11 years and this is the first time we’ve been robbed.”
According to Sgt. Dennis Magirl of the Greenville Department of Public Safety, the robbery appears to have occurred at some point late Thursday evening. The business closes at 9 p.m. on Thursdays.
“We were called here on a breaking and entering call from Central Dispatch,” Magirl said. “Once on scene, we spoke with employees who discovered the break-in when they arrived this morning. We determined that the door had been pried open and the safe had been broken into.”
The door of the main entryway into the establishment showed marks of forced entry, but the front and rear doors of the business, which were unlocked when Patterson arrived, showed no signs of forced entry.
“We brought in a canine unit, but we didn’t have any leads develop,” Magirl said. “Our evidence technicians are processing the scene now, hopefully we will develop some leads.”
According to April Elderkin, Debra’ Elderkin’s daughter who is a server and waitress at the restaurant, there are at least eight security cameras throughout the establishment.
However, Magirl said several of the cameras had been disconnected, stolen or moved. He could not confirm if any surveillance video could produce an image of a potential subject or subjects.
“Most video cameras are set up to run in the daytime, so we don’t know what we’ll find,” he said. “There’s potential to get evidence from one of the security cameras in the restaurant, but nothing is guaranteed” he said.
Magirl did say that a size 12 boot print was discovered on the floor of the restaurant near the safe, but could not confirm whether or not the investigation had revealed more than one suspect in the crime or not.
Greenville Department of Public Safety Director Mike Pousak said the department is currently working to establish a lead from security footage.
“It looks like these people knew what they were looking for,” Pousak said. “We are currently working with the video surveillance technicians to develop any leads from the video.”
April Elderkin said she doesn’t believe any other additional items in the restaurant were stolen or damaged.
“The safe, money from the Keno game machine and the cash drawer were all robbed,” she said. “I guess it’s a plus that the rest of the building seems to be OK.”
Debra Elderkin could not confirm when the restaurant would be again open for business, but said she hoped to have the business open Friday evening.
Anyone with information on the robbery is asked to call Montcalm County Central Dispatch at (989) 831-5253, Silent Observer at (616) 774-2345 or the Greenville Department of Public Safety at (616) 754-9161.