CADDO COUNTY, Okla. (KFOR) – The Caddo County Sheriff said his deputies are investigating after two rural businesses were hit by likely the same suspects with eyes on ATMs.
“Even the whole bottom, even of the wall, was like pushed in! Like, it was gone,” said Barbie Morgan, who owns Pete’s Stop-N-Go with her husband in Gracemont.
“People, get prepared if you’ve got ATMs and you’re off the road, off the beaten path, watch it,” said Johnny Bob Kurtz, owner of the Branding Iron Saloon. “I walked in and I was just devastated because of the work we put in on this thing.”
Kurtz said burglars hit his Anadarko bar on Monday, after backing up a stolen truck through the front double doors. They left behind $8,000-10,000 in repairs.
“It’s got a steel beam right here, so all this casing’s got to be rebuilt,” Kurtz said as he pointed to his damaged overhanging wall. “This is going to be probably the big part, putting this thing back together.”
“All the plumbing back there, that’s what I was concerned about,” said the bar owner, as he pulled back a silver tarp, hiding what used to be a staircase harboring the bar’s plumbing pipes.
“That right there, I just hate that,” he said, as he pointed to a brightly-colored mural depicting Oklahoma landscapes, Native American imagery and Harley Davidson artwork that’s been hanging in the bar since the 1980s. “There are so many old folks that come in here, that’s what they know. So, I got to do what I can to fix that.”
The saloon staff quickly became detectives, following the thieves’ trail etched in mud, after dragging the machine behind a white truck, possibly by a chain.
“They drug the ATM across the lake, it was easy to [follow],” he said. “When my wife and bartender went over there and found the truck, the truck was still warm. ATM was laying right besides it, they got into it.”
The thieves took $1,980 from the ATM, but they were nowhere in sight. They only left behind the truck, which Kurtz said was stolen from a Chickasha business, and some alleged stolen tools.
Fast forward just two days later to 4:45 a.m. Wednesday in Gracemont, where the same crooks were possibly caught on camera using the same M.O. on Pete’s Stop-N-Go.
“And they rammed into the store hard!” said Morgan. “There was glass out in the parking lot, like the door frame to the double doors.”
The suspects can be seen wearing black hats, gloves, boots and masks while backing up a white truck into the store front. It appears the suspects wrap a chain around the ATM.
“Instead of trying to hook the chain onto the truck, they just put the chain down and ran and got back in the truck,” said Morgan.
The crooks left Morgan and her family to clean up the mess.
“Part of the wall is still attached to the ATM,” she said as she pulled out a broken slab of wood with ATM boxes attached. “We had double-glass doors right here and then a big window right there.”
Both Kurtz and Morgan said they’re grateful they live in a community so willing to help with the cleanup. They were both able to stay open because of their help.
“The farmers were like, ‘Oh, I have some extra gloves in my truck!’ People started pulling trash cans and tubs,” said Morgan.
“People just started showing up and just started cleaning out. I wasn’t going to open, but I saw the way the girls got these things cleaned out,” Kurtz said. “I got no quit in me. I’m not going to close. We opened up that night.”
“Just catching them period will be satisfaction from the work we put into this and ruin it in 15 seconds,” Kurtz said.
Pete’s Stop-N-Go said new windows and doors should be on their way soon, and the saloon owner said it should have repairs made in a couple of weeks.
The Caddo County Sheriff said so far there are no suspects.