Restaurant owners offer reward for burglary information

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The owners of three Washington area restaurants hit by burglars in less than a four-hour span early Sunday have gone together to offer a $1,500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the culprits.


Burglarized Sunday were Shorty’s Lunch, 2301 Jefferson Ave., Canton Township; New Tower restaurant, 680 W. Chestnut St., Washington; and Angelo’s, 2109 North Franklin Drive, North Franklin Township.


“This cost the business owners, whether or not the burglars got anything,” said Michael Passalacqua, who owns Angelo’s, where cash, computers and safes were stolen. “I want to alert other business owners to take precautions, and hopefully the reward will help get these guys.”


State police were initially called to Shorty’s about 1:40 a.m. for a report of two people breaking out the window at the restaurant. Troopers arrived minutes later and discovered one of the two windows in the drive-through had been broken.


Troopers drove past the building about 2:20 a.m. and discovered that the other window had been smashed out. They drove around the back of the building and observed the rear door open. Police said DNA evidence was left at the scene. It will be processed and sent to the state police crime laboratory as evidence.


Police also discovered a window in a door at Chuck’s Archery, also at 2301 Jefferson, had been broken, but no entry was made.


About 4:35 a.m., Washington police responded to an alarm at New Tower. A broken window was found at the bottom of a stairwell on the west side of the building.


Police said it appears the office was searched and things moved, but nothing was stolen. A Pitt Panthers ball cap, Pittsburgh Penguins T-shirt and black pants were found outside. It was later determined that an attempt was made to enter other parts of the building. An exhaust fan cover was removed, and a piece of plywood in another area was torn away.


Just after 5 a.m., an alarm sounded at Angelo’s. North Franklin police arrived a few minutes later and found the glass in the back door shattered.


Passalacqua believes the intruders would have had to use a crowbar or some instrument to force open the heavy door to his office. Once inside, they stole a small safe and a laptop computer. Also stolen were some personal items, including Passalacqua’s original birth certificate and Social Security card.


The burglars also stole a larger safe containing cash and paper gift cards that Passalacqua gives as donations to organizations having fundraisers. The safe also contained important business documents and contact information for upcoming catering work.


“That would’ve been no easy chore getting that safe into a vehicle,” Passalacqua said. “It is quite heavy.”


Also stolen was a desktop computer.


“It is quite frustrating,” Passalacqua admits. “Instead of doing my regular work, I am trying to piece together and rebuild my information. I certainly had no plans today of going out and buying a Mac computer.”


Anyone with information about the identities of the burglars can call state police at 724-223-5200; North Franklin police at 724-228-9610; or Washington police at 724-223-4226.


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