CHALK RIVER, Ont. — The hunt is on for brazen thieves who targeted an Upper Ottawa Valley Royal Canadian Legion Branch the day before Remembrance Day.

OPP Constable Shawn Peever calls the thieves “bold” adding “it appears they had a plan”.

It’s believed the culprits started the “smash-and-grab” mission sometime in the early morning hours of November 10th, when they first stole a front-end loader from a landfill on Baggs Road in Chalk River.

The crew then drove the machine to the Chalk River Legion Branch on Legion Street, around 2am, there they used the front-end loader to smash through the branch doors stealing an ATM machine in the lobby.

“I think it’s local people,” Legion President Harry Thompson told CTV, “I’m pretty sure it’s someone who actually knew it was there.”

The branch was forced to quickly board up the doors to prepare for Monday’s Remembrance Day Services.  But Thompson says the thieves may have been outsmarted,

“We were supposed to fill the ATM on Monday and we hadn’t done it yet.”

Thompson said the Legion held it’s “November Award Banquet” the night before the break-in.  It’s a night to celebrate veterans and volunteers.  He says the ATM was well used and believes it may have been near empty.

Thompson says a few people in the area saw and heard the front-end loader driving around between midnight and 2am, one person even saw “people hanging off of it”.  OPP say the loader was found a short distance from the Legion, but the ATM hasn’t been located.  So far no arrests have been made.

The OPP's Forensic Identification Services (FIS) is assisting with the investigation.  Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to contact the Upper Ottawa Valley OPP at 613-732-3332 or Pembroke/Renfrew County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or at