Gum ball machine thief steals over 30 machines; costs owner roughly $10k

Published: Dec. 29, 2016 at 5:19 PM CST
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A gum ball machine thief is under arrest after after 30 of machines have been stolen from various businesses across the Omaha metro area in the past two months.

The rightful owner, Kevin Canuso, is happy to see an arrest has been made as gum balls are a large part of his livelihood.

"When things are good, they're very good," Canuso said. "When they're bad, you feel like, OK, this is it. This is enough."

And he's had enough.

Over 30 of his machines have been stolen from various businesses in the past two months. He's out about $10,000.

"When you lose a third of your business in one city, that's a big deal," Canuso said. "That hurts tremendously."

He's hopeful because an arrest has been made. Matthew Hartfield, 33, of Council Bluffs, is charged with 12 counts of theft by unlawful taking.

Canuso said, "Like in this case, it sounds like it was another vendor, potentially. It looks like they hired him, and said he could keep all the money, but just keep track of what locations he got."

Location is what Canuso thinks another vendor is after. From places like Paycheck Advance on 72nd Street, where a machine is still missing, to La Casa Pizza on Leavenworth.

Joel Hahn, owner of La Casa, said, "We obviously thought at some point that maybe we were the only ones."

Canuso is taking no more chances. He has now put locks on his machines.

"If I lose my business, that changes everything," Canuso said, "but I'm not about to just give up, either."

Hartfield faces 6 years in jail and $12,000 in fines.