published Thursday, September 20th, 2012

Restaurant burglar gets $27, causes $20,000 in damage

  • photo
    Casey Darling washes dishes at One Eleven Restaurant located on LaFayette Square in LaFayette, Ga., in this February 2012 file photo.
    Photo by Ashlee Culverhouse /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

LaFayette, Ga., police arrested a 20-year-old man Wednesday morning on felony burglary, theft and property-damage charges after an overnight break-in at One-Eleven Restaurant.

The burglar stole $27 from two cash registers, took an unknown number of $5 bills from donation jars for two ill teens and caused $15,000 to $20,000 in damage to the restaurant's computerized sales security camera systems, authorities said.

A tipster told police that former One-Eleven employee Casey Darling robbed the place because he was trying to get home to Savannah, Ga., and needed money, police Chief Benjie Clift said.

Officers arrested Darling around noon at the Morgan Motel at 204 S. Main St. where he was staying with his girlfriend and another young couple.

Police suspected the burglary was an inside job, Clift said, because, "everything was in place. Nothing else was disturbed. He knew how to move around in the restaurant."

Michael Lovelady opened One-Eleven eight months ago in a renovated historic building on LaFayette's square.

The restaurant was closed Wednesday, but Lovelady said he hoped to reopen tonight if repairs could be made to the computerized point-of-sale system that was damaged when two cash drawers were taken.

The burglar also ripped the cables from a hard drive that stores digital video from the restaurant's security cameras, but Lovelady said late Wednesday afternoon that footage appears to show two burglars in the restaurant.

This is Lovelady's second break-in since returning to his hometown of LaFayette two years ago. About $20,000 worth of items were taken during a home break-in right after he moved back, he said.

"I'm averaging a robbery a year, so far," he said.

about Tim Omarzu...

Tim Omarzu covers education for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California.

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