Last updated: June 01. 2013 3:45AM - 124 Views
By - aworrell@civitasmedia.com - (276) 728-7311



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The 42nd Annual Labor Day Gun Show & Flea Market brought both good and bad news for the Grover King VFW Post 1115 in Hillsville.
An absolutely beautiful Labor Day Weekend resulted in one of the most well-attended flea markets in recent memory. But the increased number of vendors and shoppers during the four-day show quickly turned sour during the night of Sept. 7 as someone broke into the VFW and stole the posts safe, which included some of the proceeds taken in during this years show.
We certainly didnt lose as much as we could have, but it takes a lot out of you. I was just drained emotionally and physically, said Flea Market Manager and Grover King VFW Post 1115 Commander Bill Davis. What bothers me more than anything else is we put so much back into this community. They didnt take only from us, they took from the community, so that kind of bothers me.
The Hillsville Police Department is currently investigating the burglary. According to a press release issued by the HPD, unknown persons entered through a window and broke into the VFW office the night of Sept. 7. The suspects then rolled the posts safe out of the office and through a side door. From there, the suspects loaded the safe onto a truck or trailer and fled the area.
An undisclosed amount of cash was inside the one-ton safe, but Senior Vice Commander Ed Buchanan said all the thieves got away with was a couple of sacks full of quarters. Due to a similar robbery about five years ago, Buchanan said the VFW tries not to keep any money on hand for that reason. He said deposits were made each night of the flea market. He said the only reason the quarters were still in the safe was because they had not yet been counted.
We have no reason to keep money here. We are a non-profit group. Very little money comes through here. More of it goes out then comes in, Buchanan said. There were some documents in it we would have liked to have kept, but most of it is replaceable and the money is replaceable.
A $2,500 reward is being offered by the VFW for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of those responsible for the crime.
Buchanan said he figures the thieves were probably looking to get something for nothing and didnt realize how much good the VFW does with its funds, money that goes to programs for cancer, the VA clinic, scouting groups, local scholarships, etc.
All those funds dry up when they are stolen, whether it be a dollar or two dollars or whatever the amount might be, Buchanan said. But we are community-orientated and we are not going to secure the building because of it. We want the community free to come in here. We are orientated to the public and we dont want to cause them to be scared to come in here. Money can be replaced but our communication with our community can not. And we want them to feel free to come right into the post and have their benefits and feel secure.
One thing thieves will never be able to take away is what the VFW represents the service and sacrifice local veterans made while fighting to keep America free.
There is nothing really valuable in here except to the veterans, their names and their monuments and the plaques we have got, it is for them, Buchanan said. You cant put a dollar value on it, but their hearts and recognition will always be remembered because their name is here. They will never be forgotten.
The burglary put a damper on what had otherwise been a tremendous weekend for both the VFW and the Town of Hillsville as shoppers converged on the town in larger numbers than recent years. The number of vendors were also way up this year, Davis said.
The crowds were bigger and our rent spaces were up. The crowds were up more on Friday this year than they have been in the past and the same thing with Sunday. Friday was an unusually large crowd. Sunday usually is a little slow up until noon, but this year it appeared from about 9 a.m. on the crowds were coming in. There seemed to be more of them, Davis said. Saturday might have been a little low in the morning, but it picked up in the afternoon. I think the good weather and gas prices being lower helped tremendously.
Davis said the VFW rented every space it had except for about two dozen spaces in the lower part of the lot.
And that is more than we have ever done, he said.
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