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Thief Tries To Melt Open Safe At Catoosa Restaurant

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Joshua Lee Villarreal, photo from Rogers County Jail Joshua Lee Villarreal, photo from Rogers County Jail
CATOOSA, Oklahoma -

Police say a man is behind bars after he tried to take money from a Catoosa restaurant by setting the safe on fire. 

Catoosa Police said Saturday morning's burglary at Boomerang diner was an inside job. 

Police said they arrested an employee shortly after he showed up for work Saturday.

"We're going strong and we won’t stop," said Manager Melissa Miller. 

The diner is still open for business as usual despite the attempted burglary and the safe fire. 

Miller said it could have gotten way out of hand.

"It’s a lot of anxiety and stress in trying to just still be open for business. We didn't close down for one minute," Miller said. 

Police said a man tried to steal the restaurant owner's safe at about 3:30 Saturday morning. Officers said he used a propane torch to try to light the safe on fire.

"The evidence showed that it was possible arson that occurred. So, it went from an alarm to a burglary to a possible arson. And that’s what we're investigating right now," said Corporal Graig Faxon. 

Miller said when officers arrived on scene, the safe was still smoldering. 

She said if the suspect was successful, the fire could have been a disaster for the entire strip center. 

"It could have been way worse. The fire could have gotten out of hand. It could have damaged all of the buildings … the whole building if it wasn't contained to one certain spot so we were very lucky," said Miller. 

Police arrested 30-year-old Joshua Villarreal in connection to the burglary. 

Detectives said Villarreal is an employee at the diner and will be held in the Rogers County Jail. 

"Why do you have to steal ... there's so many other ways to get help," Miller said. 

Officers say they found that nearly $4,000 was taken from the safe.

Villarreal told police he was drunk and denies taking any money. 

Villareal is being held in the Rogers County Jail on arson and embezzlement complaints.

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