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Burglars target 6th bar with pull-tab machines

A burglary early Friday at a Mooreton, N.D., bar is the sixth in three weeks targeting pull-tab machines. Bars in four small North Dakota towns in Richland and Cass counties have reported similar break-ins since Dec. 22. Authorities believe some ...

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A burglary early Friday at a Mooreton, N.D., bar is the sixth in three weeks targeting pull-tab machines.

Bars in four small North Dakota towns in Richland and Cass counties have reported similar break-ins since Dec. 22. Authorities believe some are connected.

No arrests have been made, but authorities now have a description of the suspects and a vehicle.

Lowie Griffin, who lives above and owns the Mooreton Sports Bar, reported the burglary in progress at 4:52 a.m.

The suspects pried open the front door and broke into the pull-tab machines, said Richland County Sheriff Kim Murphy.

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The amount of money taken has not been determined, but Murphy said it is more than $500.

Authorities are looking for two male suspects between ages 17 and 21.

They were driving a stolen 1996 red Dodge Dakota pickup with North Dakota license plate GVG687. The vehicle is registered to a Tower City resident. The truck was reported stolen in Moorhead on Dec. 30, Murphy said.

BrewZers in Walcott and Frank's Bar in Hankinson each reported two pull-tab machine break-ins. Rumours Bar and Grill in Davenport also reported one.

Lt. Rick Majerus of the Cass County Sheriff's Department said he thinks the suspects target small towns because they think they won't get caught.

"They may get by with a couple, but usually we find out who it is," Majerus said. "It's that one more time that gets them caught."

Murphy advises bar owners to arrange for pull-tab machines to be emptied nightly.

State law prevents bar employees from emptying the machines.

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Representatives from the charity that profits from the machine are the ones authorized to retrieve the money. The profit from the pull-tab machines goes to the charity, not the bar.

In Mooreton, the machines hadn't been emptied as regularly because the individual from the charity, Bagg Bonanza Farm, had been ill, Griffin said.

Often the damage to the pull-tab machines is more costly than the money stolen.

A damaged machine from Hankinson will cost $600 to repair, said Brian Duenow who services the machines for Lien Games of Fargo.

Suspects likely use crow bars or large screwdrivers to get into the machines, authorities said.

"Once they're inside and they feel they have time, it doesn't really take long to get into a machine," Majerus said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Amy Dalrymple at (701) 241-5590

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