MADISON — Police continued their investigation Thursday into a break-in Christmas Eve at a downtown laundromat at which thieves kicked in a portion of a wall and made off with a coin change machine and a safe.

Somerset County Sheriff Dale Lancaster said the burglary and theft was reported about 1:40 p.m. Saturday at Elm House Laundromat on Main Street.

The theft was discovered by patrons returning to retrieve laundry, Lancaster said.

“It appears that the coin machine was dragged to the front door, where it was removed from the premises,” Lancaster said. “An undisclosed amount of cash was in the machine at the time.”

Rhonda Emerson, who owns the laundromat, said she thinks someone entered the building by knocking out a wall between 9 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Saturday.

“Someone destroyed the wall and stole our change machine and safe,” Emerson said in a Facebook post. “There are reports that a gray Suburban was parked in front of the building. If you saw anything suspicious, please call Deputy Nelson at 696-5373. These machines are heavy and probably involved more than one person. Please help us find out who did this.”

Emerson, a certified public accountant with an office across the street from the Elm House Laundromat, said the place remains closed as she works with her insurance adjuster and makes repairs to the damage.

“They kicked a hole in the wall underneath the change machine and crawled into the locked office,” Emerson said by phone Thursday. “Once they got inside, they ripped out the wall and just pulled the whole change machine right off the wall from the inside.”

Emerson said the missing safe was empty because she had made deposits recently; and the change machine might have had a couple of hundred dollars in it, but it’s the principle of the break-in that is offensive.

“For what they got, versus the damage that I sustained, it’s crazy,” she said. “I’ve got $4,000 or $5,000 worth of damage and equipment loss. It’s hard to be a small business in Maine, and then something like this happens and it makes it even harder.”

She said the business has had some positive response, and she remains hopeful “that we will get the break we need to find the jerks who did this.”

Lancaster said police still are investigating and Deputy Tad Nelson is leading the case. The sheriff’s office’s Madison Division asked the public for any information about this case, particularly about any activity near the Elm House Laundromat before noon on Dec. 24. Those who have such information are asked to call Nelson at 474-6386 or 696-5373.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow

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