NORTH CHICAGO, Ill. (CBS) — A shuttered barbecue take-out place in North Chicago was rammed by a car and stripped of its metal components, in what police say might be two separate crimes.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports, the incidents happened late Monday night or early Tuesday morning at Hillery’s Barbecue, at 1617 14th St. in North Chicago.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports

Police say someone drove a car right through the front door, in what might have been an accident.

Sometime afterward, thieves kicked in a door and looted the business. They made off with all the copper they could find, including piping and copper-lined appliance cords from the building.

The business was closed about six months ago due to tax issues, and plans were to reopen. The one-story building with two tall smokestacks on the roof was built by owner Robert Hillery in 1980.

Hillery’s BBQ in Waukegan, at 2021 Lewis Ave., which opened in 1987, remains in business.

Jeff Hillery, nephew of Robert Hillery, said he called police after discovering the damage when he arrived at 8 a.m. Tuesday at the business

The crash likely happened before midnight. Local attorney John Joanem and his wife Jackie, who plans to partner with Jeff Hillery to bring the business back, were at the scene Tuesday afternoon.

John Joanem said he received a text message from his pastor, the Rev. Robert Richards, shortly after midnight that said he had driven past the building and it looked damaged. But Joanem didn’t see the text until morning.

“Police must have driven past – this is a major thoroughfare,” Joanem said. “But there’s no record it was reported.”

The front of the former eatery was littered with shattered glass, shards of wood and torn-up insulation. A corner of the roof was propped up by two, two-by-fours. Tire tracks were embedded in the parkway.

Hillery, a native of Alabama, sat inside his 2000 Ford Taurus and watched a workman begin board-up.

“It hurts,” he said. “Somebody hit it, hit it hard. I don’t know how they got away.”

Jeff Hillery questioned how the damage was missed by third-shift police patrols.

The Lake County News-Sun contributed to this report, via the Sun-Times Media Wire.

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