By Sue Moore
“I’m sorry you got robbed. Here’s some money from my allowance,” said the scrawled, handwritten note from a nine year old boy, Henry Gunberg. He was celebrating his ninth birthday with pancakes at the Rise-N-Dine in Vicksburg. He left the owners, John, Deb, John Jr., and Jake DeBault a five dollar bill.
Thieves did indeed break into the back door of the restaurant at around 2:30 a.m. on Wednesday, September 7. They rifled through the office, found the safe that weighs between 600/700 lbs., pried it open and took off with about $8,000.
They had also robbed Simmons Ford Collision Center, helping themselves to tools but no cash, according to Eric West, Vicksburg police chief. The investigation is being carried on by the Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Department, as it is reported the thieves were apprehended after committing other robberies in the county. They have been lodged in the county jail, awaiting arraignment on the charges.
“We just got comfortable with our lax security,” the senior DeBault said. “This was a wake-up call. They could have come in and destroyed the restaurant and contaminated our food. The thieves knew what they were doing. We were just glad that nobody was hurt and there wasn’t a lot of damage.”
“The Vicksburg police are out on the street these days and checking the alleys at night. It gives the building owners a better sense of security,” DeBault said. He is the president of the Downtown Development Authority and works closely with the other retailers on Main and Prairie streets.
John Jr., found the back door jammed shut when he came to work at 6 a.m. He called his dad, saw the safe was wide open, went to the kitchen, grabbed a knife and called police, not knowing if the thieves were still in the building. “That’s when the hair on my neck stood up,” John Jr. said.
“We were back in business by 8:30 a.m. with tremendous support from our customers who came out in droves to sympathize, asking how they could help. The graciousness of the town is what got us back in business so quick. That little boy’s note made us all feel glad we live and work here.” John Sr. said.