Liquored-up vandal drives front-end loader into diner
Someone, who had apparently been drinking, stole a front-end loader from a construction site and rammed through the corner of a new diner in Westville, Gloucester County, overnight.
The front-end loader was still at the scene early this morning. The Piston Diner, only open for several months, had a huge crater where the loader plunged inside, with splintered wood, electrical and plumbing dangling from the inside of the darkened hole.
Westville Police Sgt. John Grady said small, airplane style liquor bottles were found inside the cab, as well as a larger bottle of vodka.
When asked if he had every seen anything like this, Grady replied: “Not in my career.”
According to police, the event was captured on surveillance video from a Sunoco gas station directly across U.S. Route 130 (Crown Point Road).
The video shows the front-end loader traveling shortly after midnight southbound along Route 130 from a road construction site about one-quarter mile away. The construction vehicle then turned into the parking lot of the diner and rammed the wall.
A person was seen getting out and climbing into an awaiting van or truck with a driver awaiting. The two then fled. The video did not show if the suspects were male or female.
Grady said the owner of the diner, Jason Kramer, was stumped at who would do such a thing and did not believe anyone held ill will toward him. He had only just opened and had not fired anyone, Grady said, so there did not appear to be any motive by disgruntled employees.
"It's tough because we'll have to give people their last paychecks today," a visibly upset Kramer told a news crew at the scene. He said it will likely take months to get the diner back up and running.