ATM Ripped from ‘The Mess Hall’ in Lackawanna County

COVINGTON TOWNSHIP -- Burglars took an ATM in a smash and grab at a military-themed restaurant in Lackawanna County.

"The Mess Hall" in Covington Township was broken into around 5 a.m. Monday.

At The Mess Hall, some of the profit goes back to veteran organizations and active-military family members in need.

Veterans in the area don't know how someone could have targeted a place like this.

"It's terrible. They rip a door off. If they want money, come and ask people, they'll give the money to them, especially organizations like us," said John Croom, VFW Post 5207 Commander

The Mess Hall is a military-themed restaurant. The owner, a military mom herself, says she's just thankful none of the memorabilia inside was destroyed.

"No one was hurt, nothing else was touched. They say they were here for one reason, to get the ATM," said building owner David Bianco.

Many are saying this is becoming all too common.

Back in November, Bill's Supermarket in Daleville, just down the street from The Mess Hall, had its ATM stolen as well. That was caught on surveillance camera and these ATM thefts have other business owners in the area wondering if they are next.

At the Moscow Deli, they say they aren't going to get rid of their ATM but they do have surveillance cameras.

"We don't leave that much money in it, so if someone does take it, it's kind of joke on them," said Courtney Hanlein.

State police say the burglars chained the doors of the restaurant to their truck to pull them open and then chained the ATM to pull it out from the ground. Police say it probably took less than a minute.

"It gets you nervous when we have a facility like we have. It could happen here too. But when it happens at veterans' places, it's even worse, a place that is honoring veterans," said Croom.

"It's just sad. I think we should have to worry about that," added Hanlein.

The restaurant is normally closed on Mondays, but the owner's family says they plan to re-open and have business as usual on Tuesday.

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