Safe stolen at new Rails Restaurant in overnight theft

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LEWISTON — A bungled late-night burglary at the just-opened Rails Restaurant ended with smashed computers, missing bottles of liquor and an unopened safe abandoned in nearby Simard-Payne Memorial Park.

“It could have been so much worse,” co-owner Claire Dick said Friday as workers hastily readied for the lunch crowd on the restaurant’s ninth day of business.

Ileshea Stowe, Rails’ director of operations, smiled.

“It’s crazy,” she said of the incident. Stowe had just left for the night Thursday when she received a security alert saying an alarm had been triggered inside the restaurant at 103 Lincoln St.

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She raced back to the restaurant just in time to see an African-American man making his way across the parking lot. He was carrying an armload of liquor bottles and the bar’s paper-towel holder. Stowe rolled down her car window and shouted at the man.

“I said, ‘Hey! What are you doing? Where did you get that?'” she said.

“‘Bates Mill!'” he yelled back. “He put his head down and kept running toward the park.”

She then went into the restaurant through the ajar front door. The window was broken. A coffee maker was toppled over.

The restaurant wasn’t vandalized, though.

“They could have done nasty things,” she said. “They could have done so much damage. They even flushed the toilet when they went to the bathroom.”

The burglars seemed focused on the security system and the safe. They stole the system’s hard drive, smashed other computers and hauled away the safe.

Though the safe is not huge, it’s heavy, co-owner Stephen Dick said.

“It would take a minimum of two people to move,” Dick said. “Maybe more.”

The safe didn’t get far.

It was found in the park. It hadn’t been opened.

There wasn’t a lot of money inside, Stowe said.

“Maybe they were thinking there would be big cash in there,” she said. “But most people pay with credit cards.”

Police were investigating the burglary.

“We have one suspect,” Lt. Michael McGonagle said Friday afternoon. “We’re continuing to look at it.”

The restaurant was insured.

Security will be increased, Claire Dick said.

dhartill@sunjournal.com

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