Vet’s Club reports $30,000 burglary

By Mark Baker | Local News | |

Cash, souvenir guitars, an ATM machine and a catering van are among the things that are missing

Maybe the thief wasn’t a fan of Lloyd Jones or Big Monti Amundson?

Whoever stole six autographed guitars — along with thousands of dollars of cash, an ATM machine, a laptop computer and a catering van from Mac’s at the Vet’s Club about 3:50 a.m. Sunday — left behind two other electric guitars that hang over the bar and are autographed by Northwest blues musicians Jones and Amundson.

Missing, however, are guitars autographed by Henry Cooper, Ty Curtis, Karen Lovely, The Strangetones, Peter Dammann and Kevin Selfe — all musicians who, like Jones and Amundson, have performed at the popular Eugene nightspot in the Veterans’ Memorial Building at 16th Avenue and Willamette Street.

“It baffles us that they didn’t take the other two,” said club owner Pat McCallum — not that he’s complaining.

McCallum estimates that the stolen guitars are worth at about $500 each. All told, however, he estimates that the thief or thieves stole about $30,000 to $35,000 worth of cash and goods.

“They cleaned us out pretty good,” he said.

While police aren’t saying much yet, McCallum suspects the culprit could be a former employee, since the safe in his office was cracked without much problem.

“I believe they knew the combination,” he said.

Inside were cash and keys that unlock other cash spots around the bar, including Oregon Lottery video poker machines. A cash box in one of the video poker machines was emptied of about $150, McCallum said.

Bob Dougherty, a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars post who manages the Veterans’ Memorial Building, said he came in about 6:30 a.m. Sunday and discovered the building’s back door unlocked. He also noticed one of the club’s two vans was gone, so he figured employees were out on a catering job. A door leading into the bar was also open, which isn’t normal, and the ATM machine in the bar was gone, too, Dougherty said. But he figured the machine, which has had operational problems in the past, must have been taken away for repairs.

It wasn’t until McCallum called him about noon Sunday to say the bar had been burglarized that Dougherty learned what happened. But McCallum at the time apparently didn’t yet know that one of the vans parked in the back parking lot was missing, too.

McCallum said the stolen van was bought used last year for about $12,000, and has since had about another $4,000 worth of work done to it.

In addition to the cash stolen from the safe and the Oregon Lottery video poker machine, the missing ATM machine contained about $4,000, McCallum said.

The evidence suggests to McCallum that the thief or thieves made off with the cash, ATM machine and guitars in the van, which has the words “Mac’s Custom Catering” on the sides.

So, if you see someone in the next couple of days driving a 2006 white Ford E-350 van with that lettering, you might want to call police.

“If you see it, you’re not going to miss it,” McCallum said.

Of course, McCallum suspects the thief or thieves might have taken the van to a “chop shop” and already had it painted over. Or that they at least aren’t dumb enough to drive it around with the “Mac’s” logo showing.

The burglary remains under investigation, Eugene police spokeswoman Melinda McLaughlin said. Asked if there are any suspects, including former employees of the bar, McLaughlin said: “At this point, I don’t think we could say that. We don’t usually put that information out there this early in an investigation.”

McCallum is hoping insurance will cover most of the missing money and items. The bar, which normally operates Tuesday through Saturday, will be closed today but will reopen Wednesday, he said.