GASTONIA, N.C. -- Gumball machines are a dime a dozen and now Gastonia police are wondering why someone has been breaking into businesses to steal dozens of them.
It has happened at least seven times throughout the city in the first two weeks of May.
And in each case, the possible amount taken doesn't seem worth all the trouble.
"$30-$50 in change. There is not a lot of incentive to do that so it is kind of odd," said Donna Lahser, a spokesperson for the Gastonia Police Department.
Laurie Beckham had one of the machines in her barber shop until last week. That is when the "gumball thief" broke down the door to the shop and stole the machine.
"And it was actually for the kids that have diseases or were disabled. It helped the families with money to get treatment for the kids. That is the sad part," said Beckham.
A surveillance camera at the Codfish Cove restaurant captured pictures of the suspect who struck there last week.
"The guy just backed up, knocked the glass out, went in and stole the gumball machine," said the manager, Kent Stowe.
The break-ins are costing the business owners a lot more in repairs than the value of the machines, because their insurance deductibles are so high.
"It cost around $300 and that came out of my pocket," said Beckham.
Gastonia police are asking anyone who knows anything about the thefts to give them a call.