updated 6/19/2008 3:10:36 PM ET 2008-06-19T19:10:36

A thief bashed the plastic glass to get to the $1, $5, $10 and $20 bills inside the Drop-A-Note donation box in the Kentucky Theatre's lobby. But all they probably got were fistfuls of worthless paper, fake bills layered inside to hide the real cash.

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"It's sad when idiots can't tell fake money from the real thing," said Steve Brown, president of Kentucky's Mighty Wurlitzer Theatre Organ Project, whose group is using the proceeds from the box to restore a Wurlitzer organ and return it to Kentucky.

The fake bills were black and white and didn't even have serial numbers, Brown said.

The thief, who struck early June 2, made off with little or no money because the box had been emptied that weekend, Brown said.

Since the box was installed at the Kentucky Theatre seven years ago, thieves have periodically loosened the screws, lifted the cover and taken money out, Brown said, probably stealing about $400 in that time.

New, vandal-proof screws that had been installed did their job by being difficult to unscrew. But the thief got into the box this time by smashing in the glass in with a heavy hammer or mallet, Brown said.

The Drop-A-Note box, which will cost $100 to $200 to repair, will be back in the Kentucky Theatre's lobby in a week or two.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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