THOMASVILLE, GA (WALB) – A man in Thomasville man says he's tired of his business being burglarized.
Crooks have hit Wilful Seed Company several times in recent months.
Usually, the crooks are after copper wiring. But in the most recent burglary they took something special to Jeff Willis, an antique slot machine. And he has a plan to get it back.
The first time thieves broke into the Jeff Willis's business, Wilful Seed Co., they just wanted copper.
But then the crooks kept coming back.
"We've been broken into here probably four or five times," Willis explains. "Sometimes you couldn't tell if they got anything or not."
Once, someone even used a sledgehammer to get in through the wall.
Each time Willis takes the burglary in stride, files another insurance claim, then gets back to business. But that was before someone took something very personal to him.
"We were unloading peanuts when my guy called me and said we didn't have any power. So I called my electrician and found out the breakers had been switched and just thought it was someone being mischievous or something like that."
They realized it wasn't a prank when a good friend went inside to play with one of Willis' antique slot machines.
"If he comes in, he always tries to pull the handle or put a nickel in and it always puts a smile on his face. But he came to me and said where's my slot machine? And that's the first time I noticed it was gone."
Willis says he got the machine twenty-one years ago from his banker. The 1940 slot machine is worth $5000. And he wants it back.
"I'm tried of people coming in here and messing with my personal stuff. It's just been a novelty and really a piece that reminds me of old times that I really love."
So now he's offering $500 of his own money to anyone who returns the slot machine... or turns in the person who stole it.
"The thing weighs about 144-pounds by itself and then you add another 15-20 pounds of nickels and it would take a pretty strong person to tote it off."
Willis says he's not a gambling man. But he's hoping the crook's luck will run out.
Jeff Willis says he's upgraded his security system and is working with authorities to make sure another burglary doesn't happen.
If you have any information on the whereabouts of the slot machine or the person who stole it, call Thomasville Crime Stoppers at (229) 227-3305. You could get that five hundred dollar reward.