Staff at the Albion Park RSL spent most of Monday morning picking up the pieces after thieves attempted to get their hands on cash and cigarettes during a two-minute smash-and-grab.
Three people were reportedly involved in the early-morning break and enter, which caused about $40,000 worth of damage but left those responsible practically empty-handed.
The thieves managed to get away with only two bottles of liquor, RSL club chief executive Shaun Tobin said.
“All they’ve done is created malicious damage for very little gain,” Mr Tobin said.
Police were called to the licensed venue, on the corner of Tongarra and Hamilton roads, about 3.20am on Monday after reports of an aggravated break and enter.
On arrival, officers from Lake Illawarra police found attempts had been made to access two ATMs and a cigarette machine in the club.
Investigators believe a bronze four-wheel-drive was driven towards the front glass doors in order to gain entry.
“They drove a car through one set of doors, I’ll say unsuccessfully,” Mr Tobin said.
“They propped another side door, then smashed another panel of glass to gain entry into the main section of the club.” Mr Tobin told of “three perpetrators”, two of whom he said headed one way while the other headed towards the bar.
“They found the cigarette machine and attempted to roll that to one point of exit then, after smashing a glass door, realised they couldn’t get out through that exit,” he said.
“They pushed it another three or four metres and then they sort of ran out of time.
“They were in the club for about two minutes, that was it.” Just after the break-in, emergency services were called to a car fire on Woollybutt Drive, Albion Park Rail.
A bronze Toyota Rav4 was alight at the location and police believe it may have been involved in the incident.
Investigators are reviewing the club’s CCTV footage as part of their ongoing investigation.
The incident and subsequent repairs forced the closure of the club until about 1pm. The shutdown meant a weekly community group gathering of 50 to 60 elderly people had to be cancelled.
Anyone with information should call Lake Illawarra police station on 4232 5599 or contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.