Half of Sunriver restaurant’s outdoor furniture gone after fake online ad says it’s closing, come and take it

Owner moved to tears; police call it ‘a head-scratcher’

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) — A Sunriver restaurant is missing half of its outdoor furniture, after a fake online ad claimed they were closing and asked people to come by and take whatever they wanted.

Laura Bliss is the owner of South Bend Bistro, which is now missing half empty.

“I’ve put my entire life into this,” Bliss said Thursday while trying to hold back tears. “Sorry, I’m a little emotional there.”

Bliss bought South Bend Bistro in 2017, and has worked at it every day since.

“I am the one behind all of this restaurant, and it’s my baby, so it’s been really hard,” Bliss said. “With everything that we’ve been through as a restaurant over the last few years, to wake up to this – – it’s very frustrating.”

The restaurant’s security footage Thursday morning shows people taking tables, chairs, umbrellas, plants, heaters and propane tanks.

“This is normally filled with tables and umbrellas,” Bliss said, pointing at a half-filled patio. “They knocked over our planters and took our plants.”

Why did this happen? Police said because of a fake Craigslist ad that claimed South Bend Bistro was closing and all the furniture needed to go as soon as possible, and could be taken for free.

For lt. Michael Womer of the Sunriver Police Department, this was a new one.

“This one is a head-scratcher,” Womer said. “I’ve been in law enforcement for 25 years, and I have not quite seen this one before.”

Sunriver police are requesting a subpoena for the ad and investigating if it was a form of political retaliation.

“There seems to be some initial information that there might be a dispute with the previous owners but its too early to tell at this point if that’s legit,” Womer said.

Bliss said she believes it has something to do with the previous owner, and she’s certain she’s done nothing publicly to anger anyone.

“I’m not a part of any organizations. I’m just raising a family and running a business, that’s all I’m here to do,” Bliss said.

Going into the weekend with the official start to summer, the restaurant is now missing half of the tables and chairs for its deck, one of its most popular spots.

“The buzz is good, the vibe is good,” Bliss said about the season so far. “And then to wake up this morning to that was horrific.”

Some people have already started returning items, facing no legal punishment.

Depending on how much is returned, it could cost Bliss close to $4,000 to replace it all.

NewsChannel 21 asked if Bliss could afford to replace it all.

“No,” Bliss said. “And that hits really hard.”

Sunriver police said if you took any items to please return them. You will not face any legal punishment due to the fake advertisement.

However, if you become aware of the ad was false, then there could be legal repercussions.

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