Thief breaks into local restaurant, steals thousands in cash and catering van

Big Kahuna's catering van is missing after a thief broke into the restaurant early Saturday morning. This is the business's only catering van.


It's a service Big Kahuna's in the St. Johns neighborhood prides itself on, but police say someone else was ready to cash in on the business's popularity.

The restaurant says someone broke into their store on Lombard Street, took all their money, found the key to their catering van and drove off with it around 1 a.m. Saturday.

The van was located just before 7 p.m. near N Princeton and Newall Streets. No one has been taken into custody, police said.

Even 24-hour surveillance couldn't thwart the thief. Gary Herrera, the owner of the barbecue and catering joint, had to watch his surveillance tapes to see how the burglar did it.

It seems the AC unit was his way in.

"He knew exactly what he was doing," said Herrera. "Then he waited and then a whole hour later, he ends up coming back since everything went quiet. That's when he came in."

Herrera said he got a call from security around midnight. He thought it was a false alarm, until he walked into the dining room of his restaurant the next morning.

The AC unit was smashed on the floor, more than $8,000 was taken, and the key to his catering van was missing.

"Just rotten. You know, it just sickens me," he said. "It's not what I needed right now. This is our highest point right now. We have weddings, we have corporate events, we have a lot going on."

He says catering is his business' bread and butter.

Community members have claimed spotting the van around town a couple of times before it was recovered. Scott Freeman saw it in NE Portland around Parkrose. He said he tried following it because he wanted information about the catering.

"I didn't realize I was following a stolen vehicle," said Freeman. "I wish I would've known because I would've tried to follow him and called the cops, so it's a bummer."

While this was a big blow to a small family business, Big Kahuna's is making the best out of the situation.

"The show goes on. Whatever it takes, I'll be there," said Herrera.

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