MERIDIAN -- Police officers are chasing down leads after a small food stand business was burglarized and vandalized.
Steve DiMaria, 77, has owned the Taste of Chicago food stand for nine years. The shop is nestled next to the Rite Aid at the intersection of Main Street and Fairview Avenue in Meridian.
DiMaria says someone broke into the hot dog stand late Saturday night or early Sunday, tore down shelves, scattered equipment and merchandise, then stole his cash register.
“They tore everything, and then they were drinking beer in here inside,” explained DiMaria.
At 77-years-old, the former Chicagoan has made the hot dog stand his retirement dream come true.
Now he's left picking up a big mess.
“I have got a lot of cleaning still to do, I mean I couldn’t even walk in there,” he said.
At this point, DiMaria is still trying to figure out what is stolen and what’s left.
“Between the shock of it and the devastation your mind is just twirling, you don’t think straight of what to look for and what not,” said DiMaria.
He told KTVB Monday that he can’t help but take the crime personally, because he says he is very welcoming to each and every customer he has.
“And it was just a shock to me that it was like somebody truly didn’t like me, and I don’t know why,” he said.
Officers followed up on the lead Monday.
“They have left us some opportunities to solve it,” explained Lieutenant Jamie Leslie with the Meridian Police Department. “Leaving stuff behind and there were some pretty observant people around there who did get some physical descriptions of some individuals.”
It could be another couple of days before DiMaria can reopen Taste of Chicago, and already he said he has lost a lot.
“I have got a lot of time and work and money,” said DiMaria.
The retired small business owner believes customers will stay supportive but hopes someone can help by reporting something out of the ordinary that was seen that very night his hot dog stand was vandalized.
“That is one thing I will say, Meridian cares,” he said.
Police say anyone who might know who's responsible for the crime should call the Meridian Police Department at (208) 888-6678.