NORTH FORK – When Claudia Box planned to take a couple days off over Memorial Day weekend, she didn’t plan on spending them cleaning up the mess that burglars made of her store.
Claudia closed up shop at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 25, looking forward to two days of gardening and working around the property. At about 7 a.m. on Sunday, a resident who lives near Box Feed saw a wheelbarrow at the end of his road with jewelry piled in it and scattered all around. After seeing the gates open at the business, he gave Claudia a call.
“Warren and I came down to the store, and the gates had been pushed open,” said Claudia. “The place was a mess, and there was glass everywhere.”
The thieves apparently climbed over the gate, and into the property that she shares with B & B Hardware which on the top floor. They then climbed up a ladder that was leaning against the building and broke out a window to the hardware store, crawled into B & B and grabbed a bolt cutter, an axe and a pry bar. Those are the tools they apparently used to cut the chain on her gate and break into the store.
They then continued their destructive rampage by smashing the glass in several of her display cases, and began scooping up Montana Silver, Black Hills gold and turquoise jewelry, knives and T-shirts.
They used her wheelbarrows to haul stuff away, and also began filling up a portable dog kennel with more loot.
Claudia figures something must have interrupted them during the crime, because some of the things they had packed up were still on the premises. But her classic old cash register was gone, and she has had to replace it with one of those new-fangled electronic ones.
Claudia is just grateful that they didn’t steal the computer that contained all her store records, however they did grab five pounds of sausage and five dozen eggs, many of which they broke along their escape route.
The burglars also made off with copper pipe and many other items from B & B Hardware. Claudia says Ed, the owner of the hardware store, did find some of his merchandise abandoned in front of the barber shop. She also says they lit a broom on fire, apparently to use as a torch to illuminate their criminal activity.
“We’re just lucky they didn’t burn down the whole building,” she says.
Sheriff’s deputies are investigating, and hopefully someone in the community has knowledge of the break-in, or may know something about anyone trying to sell the merchandise.
For now, Claudia is moving forward with her usual can-do attitude, putting things back in order and getting back to business.
“We spent our two days off cleaning up the mess and installing a security system,” she says. “It’s a shame when you work so hard for what you have, and then something like this happens.”
This is the 4th time in 31 years the store has been burglarized, and the 2nd time in the past 6 months. The day after this latest debacle, Claudia posted on the store’s Facebook page, “So I give up. Alarms and video camera ordered.”