INDEPENDENCE, MO (KCTV) -- Thieves torched and cut their way inside a VFW post, now veterans hope you will help police track down who stole thousands from them.
The three thieves are lucky their tactics didn’t start a fire inside this the Independence VFW Post off U.S. 24 Highway.
Once the thieves cut their way inside, they started checking doors. That included doors that are always locked. They eventually made their way inside the post looking for anything they could steal.
It all started with cutting torch sparks flickering under a door. Smoke could be seen filling the air.
“They were persistent,” said Post Commander Frank Looker. “It put a bunch of burn pits in the carpet and the rugs. I'm surprised it didn't catch on fire.”
For six minutes, the burglars cut through metal. They didn’t care that they triggered the alarm and police were on the way. It almost looked like fireworks were going off inside VFW Post 1000, but it was the opposite of patriotic.
“Very frustrating, very frustrating,” Looker said. “When you steal from an organization like this, you are stealing from the volunteers that set up the fundraisers and the events. You are stealing from the people who donated and, even worse, you are stealing from the veterans we assist.”
Once inside, the thieves found the post’s safe. They tried using a broadax because the safe was bolted to the wall and floor. When that didn’t work, they used a crowbar and ran out carrying the safe that had several thousand dollars inside from recent fundraisers and events.
“We will get through it,” Looker said. “Our commitment to the women and men who served our country will always be there regardless and hopefully this will just make us stronger.”
He hopes you will take a close look at the suspects who covered their faces and call police if you recognize them, their clothing, or the backpack. It’s possible they work in construction or know someone who does. One suspect wore a headlamp (flashlight on head) and they brought their burglary tools.
“Maybe they've said something to somebody?” Looker said.
Looker, who has been a member of the VFW for decades, said thieves usually do not target veterans’ organizations.
“There is nothing off-limits to a bad guy,” he said. “It is a shame.”
He hopes nearby businesses will check their surveillance cameras to see if they captured the thieves driving in the area on Feb. 1 between 6:00 and 6:30 in the morning.