Community offers helping hand to Harts

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

EUREKA SPRINGS -- The parking lot was full Friday, shelves were stocked and customers roamed the Hart's Family Center aisles just 24 hours after would-be thieves wrecked the store trying to steal a 7,000-pound safe early Thursday.

"We have the best crew in the world and live in the best county," Jay Galyen, general manager at Hart's Family Center, said Friday about how quickly the wreckage was repaired by staff and volunteers.

"We opened at 7:30 a.m. today. We left the store at 8:30 last night (after finishing the big cleanup). It's amazing. The outpouring from the community was wonderful.

"We had call after call offering to help clean up, or bring a hammer. Everybody I hear from is very upset and as mad as I am.

"It makes you realize how many friends you have and appreciate living where we live."

Thieves broke in overnight Thursday and used a powerful Bobcat sled loader to rip out stairs in front of the safe, then drug it to the back, wrecking and damaging shelves and refrigerated cases to the tune of an estimated $50,000.

They didn't get the safe, but damaged it enough that it had to be replaced.

"We do have a replacement safe that's bigger and better," Galyen said. "I'm just thankful no one was hurt. Things can be replaced. We've talked to the insurance adjuster and they'll help all they can."

"We've got to get some new panels on the dairy and produce cases," Galyen noted, then added, "The stairs to the office were rebuilt by Billy Clark and J.J. Galyen."

Galyen said the store has been broken into "five or six other times over 37 years. The last time was 1994. We know that from the date on the inside of the safe (they tried to take)."

Det. Morris Pate with the Eureka Springs Police Department was contacted Monday and said, "We're working on a few possibilities (for suspects) and worked all day Friday on it. We're on it today and will be all week."

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