Updated May 24, 2022 - 9:19 am
The Omelet House in downtown Las Vegas has been getting well-known visitors for more than 40 years, including fighters, comedian Jerry Lewis and many local politicians.
But on Thursday morning, the popular restaurant at 2160 W. Charleston Blvd., near Rancho Drive, had an unwelcome visitor.
A muscular man wearing a Pittsburgh Pirates baseball cap entered the business, milled about inside suspiciously, then picked up a cherished antique gum ball machine and lumbered out an exit door with the sizable dispenser.
“Of all things to take, an antique gum ball machine?” General Manager Nicholas Cosgrove said. “Maybe he wanted it for his house, I don’t know.”
The good news for the Omelet House, and the bad news for the thief, is that shortly before the crime, the business installed a new high-end video surveillance system.
The resulting video shows the man, clear as day, swiping the gum ball machine, then exiting to the parking lot, where he shoves the device into a dark-colored Hyundai Elantra hatchback. The video is so clear it even captured the tag of the vehicle used to carry out the theft.
“If you are thinking about doing something like this nowadays, just take it for granted you are probably being videotaped,” restaurant owner Kevin Mills said.
Metropolitan Police Department spokesman Larry Hadfield said Monday that police have opened “an active investigation” into the theft, and they are working to identify suspects.
Mills said the gum ball machine is worth about $1,400. Cosgrove said the man who carried out the theft was in the restaurant roughly an hour prior with a woman. They were posing as former customers claiming to be looking for “a missing bag they had left here three weeks ago,” Cosgrove said.
Cosgrove said he’s now convinced that there never was a missing bag and that the whole thing was a “setup from the gate.”
“He had this planned out from the start,” the general manager said. “Over a gum ball machine. I was shocked.”
Mills said he’s optimistic the police will solve the crime. Hadfield said anyone with information is asked to call Metro’s downtown area command at 702-828-4348. Tipsters also may email police at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I’d like an apology, an explanation and my machine back,” Mills said. “I just don’t understand. For a few quarters and some gum balls?”
Contact Glenn Puit by email at email@example.com. Follow @GlennatRJ on Twitter.