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      Backhoe used to break into Phillips family pawnshop

      An employee at Albany Sporting Goods and Pawn found something amiss when he came into work Tuesday morning -- a door and some of the wall was brought down."Between 8:57 and sometime this morning someone stole a WG&L backhoe from Maple and Clark and broke into this building," said Phyllis Whitley Banks, the Public Information Officer for the Albany Police Department. This building happens to be Albany Sporting Goods and Pawn, a store that has frequently been in the news lately because it's owned by Donnie Phillips, father of American Idol winner Phillip Phillips.

      "It's not something spontaneous. I think somebody knew what they were doing and was looking for the opportunity and found it," said David Atkins, an investigator for the Water, Gas and Light Commission.

      They found it in the form of a backhoe - which was thought to be safely secured in the water, gas, and light water well house.

      "They believe that someone bypassed the ignition, hotwired the backhoe, and then drove it to this area," said Whitley-Banks.

      The suspect took an unknown route to go behind the pawn shop where they used the backhoe to break through the wall, and steal miscellaneous items.

      "They got jewelry, they got guns, they got coins, they got a bunch of stuff so I TMm going to have to fast check it when I get there," said Donnie.

      Authorities are still investigating how an elaborate scheme used to create a hole of this size in the back of Donnie Phillips' store went undetected.

      "It's not the hardest vehicle in the world to hotwire but you've got to have some knowledge of how to do that. It's not just something the ordinary crook is going to know about," said Atkins.

      LaDonna Urick, Phillip TMs sister, voiced her frustration online saying, "Makes me sick to think others destroy something someone else works hard for to provide for their family."

      The Albany Police Department hopes to provide answers for the family as soon as possible.

      "The detectives that are working this case are now canvassing the area to determine if anybody heard or saw anything. They're also checking businesses all along this area to see if there was anything captured on surveillance video, said Whitley-Banks.

      For now, the Phillips family will have to pick up the pieces.