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Burglars Clean Out Center, But Can’t Steal Christmas

Sat., Dec. 21, 1996

Burglars stole chairs, a table, and tried to take the piano, but they couldn’t steal the spirit of Christmas from the Wayside Community Center.

“This has been a dreadful blow, especially this time of year,” said Thelma Bloom.

But the Half Moon Women’s Club was determined Friday to hold its 37th annual Christmas play and party at the community center, despite the burglaries.

“If we don’t let them cripple us, then we have scored something, too,” said Bloom, who’s lived in Wayside, north of Spokane, off Highway 395, since 1941.

Three days in a row - and twice Thursday - burglars removed property including 30 oak chairs, a heavy oak table, saddle club trophies and a clock.

“I said ‘Those rotten guys, it’s a wonder they didn’t take the piano.’ Then they came back to get it,” said neighbor Bob Brown, who was planning on playing Santa during the party.

The burglars tried to move the piano out the front door and down the stairs, then apparently dropped it, breaking its legs.

The piano was crucial to the Friday night Christmas program. Women’s club members were trying to borrow a keyboard.

Neighbors were thankful the Grinch-like burglars hadn’t returned for the Christmas tree.

The only clues are a red and black glove dropped in the snow, and tire tracks, possibly from a truck with snow tires.

“It’s not that unusual to have a burglar make a return trip, But it is surprising that they would take 20 or 30 wooden chairs, unless they had some antique value,” said Dave Reagan, a Spokane County sheriff’s deputy. “Chairs and trophies, that’s not the usual burglar’s loot.”

Burglars broke into the building by cutting a lock off the front door. The community center was built as a schoolhouse in the 1900s, and then became the township hall.

, DataTimes The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Kathy Mulady Staff writer Staff writer Jonathan Martin contributed to this report.

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