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Vandals break into Masonic lodge, ransack offices

Laptops, cash, food stamp cards stolen from drug counseling agency

 

Staff at a drug and alcohol counseling agency in downtown Ironton came to work Thursday morning to find their offices ransacked.

The Ironton Police Department is investigating vandalism and thefts from offices at the Masonic lodge at the Center Street Fountain.

Charles Roe, a therapist at New Beginnings Behavioral Health, was the first to discover the mess. Roe said he came to work to find the main door unlocked and the lights off.

“I walked up and then I noticed all the windows busted out and the offices disturbed,” Roe said. “I called the police at that point.”

Of the four floors at the Masonic lodge, the first floor, which houses a law office and a private investigator’s office, was undisturbed.

New Beginnings is on the second floor, along with other offices rented out by the Masonic lodge.

Nearly all the office doors’ windows were broken.

Karen Waddle, owner of the drug and alcohol counseling agency, said her office seemed to be a primary target of the thefts and vandalism.

Waddle said the intruders stole her laptop and another new one, but they also destroyed a new laptop and left it in the office.

“My laptop, which is almost 10 years old, is gone,” Waddle said. “That one there is brand new. They busted it all to pieces.”

A lock box from Waddle’s desk was also taken, which had more than $8,000 worth of checks and an undetermined amount of petty cash, clients’ food stamp cards and receipts.

Waddle said the checks had already been stamped by the agency.

“It doesn’t look like they’ve bothered our files,” Waddle said.

Items from Waddle’s desk and others were strewn about and some of the telephones were broken. Some of the electronics, like a fax machine and printers, which Waddle said were new, had not been touched.

The third floor office door windows were also broken, although rooms are vacant.

The fourth floor of the building houses the Masonic lodge offices.

Rod Depriest, treasurer of the lodge and 11-year member, was also shocked at the incident. He said nothing was taken and the Masonic offices were not broken into.

The intruders did empty a fire extinguisher in the lobby area, covering the red carpet and bench seat in a dingy yellow blanket of its contents.

The word “Dallas” and an anarchy symbol were drawn on the seat of the bench.

“This is the brothers’ lodge,” Depriest said. “For someone to come in and destroy it like this is absolutely, there is no reason for this. It’s either retaliation against someone or just plain mean, being destructive.”

J.D. McDaniel of the Ironton Municipal Court community service work program brought workers to help clean up the building and sweep and vacuum broken glass. Trustees of the building also helped clean the mess.

IPD Detective Chris Bowman said the intruders came in through a second floor window.

“They came in through a window on the back side of the building,” Bowman said. “They forced it open.”

Bowman said the investigation is ongoing and there are two suspects.

“Just the idea of someone being devious enough, I have no sympathy for anyone like that,” Depriest said. “And if we find them, they will be taken to court to the fullest extent. We will press charges and we will press them hard.”