Thieves trash sports club

A SLEDGEHAMMER and crowbar were used by bandits to force open poker machines and trash the Kirra Sports Club in the early hours of yesterday morning.

Devastated staff were left picking up the pieces after the two robbers smashed their way through the front door of the Miles Street club and stole cash, cigarettes and alcohol.

Along with the pokies, an ATM, a cigarette machine and a payphone were also trashed in the raid.

The men entered the premises about 3.50am (DST) and disabled the alarm, club manager Grant McKenzie said.

Police interrupted the men as they began to load a car with stolen goods, but they abandoned that car and fled in a second vehicle.

The club's front timber door was smashed off its hinges and the trail of destruction stretched throughout the club's lower level.

Staff were visibly upset yesterday afternoon and it was clear they had spent the morning doing an extensive clean-up.

About 20 poker machines had been forced open, smashed and torn to pieces.

Lee Purnell, of technical support company Bytecraft, said he had never seen poker machines left like that.

“As far as the damage goes, I've never seen anything like it,” Mr Purnell said. “And I've seen a few.”

Mr Purnell said the cost of damage to the machines would easily have reached hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“They clear the machines pretty regularly, so the amount of damage is much more than the money they would've got.

“They've removed the doors on four or five machines, and those are worth about $2500 each. The screens have to be replaced on some of them and they are worth about $2000. Then there are the older doors which I'm not even sure we can get any more.”

He said in some instances, entire cash boxes were missing after having been ripped clean from inside the machines.

A sledgehammer and a crowbar were found at the scene, but it is not known whether any other weapons were used.

An ATM near the club's front entrance was so dismantled it looked as if the robbers had attempted to blow it up.

But police said the men were unsuccessful in their bid to open the machine and no cash was taken from it.

Mr McKenzie said the club was open for business yesterday afternoon, minus the use of the damaged facilities.

“The ATM has been smashed to bits, a cigarette machine was also smashed,” he said.

“There has been a massive clean-up effort.

“We were insured, but how much of that do you get back?”

Forensic Services Police were yesterday at the scene conducting investigations and retrieving CCTV footage.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

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