JSO: Man steals another donation jar meant for family of slain 7-year-old

Surveillance shows man swipe jar containing $500, Jacksonville police say

By Vic Micolucci - I-TEAM reporter, anchor, Scott Johnson - Reporter, Colette DuChanois - Web producer

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Police are looking for a man captured on surveillance video taking another donation jar intended for the family of a slain 7-year-old girl, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office announced Tuesday night.

At least $500 was in the donation jar stolen Sunday afternoon from La Raza Mexican Store on North Arlington Road, according to police.

The next day, police said, the store realized the donation jar was missing and reviewed surveillance video, which showed a black man wearing a blue "Maple Biscuit" T-shirt walk into the store, grab the jar and then walk out.

WATCH: Man caught on camera swiping donation jar from Arlington store, JSO says

The shirt appears to be one from Maple Street Biscuit Company. A spokesperson for the popular restaurant said Thursday that the company determined the man in the video was not an employee.

Maple Street has offered to replace the money that was in the jar taken from the Arlington store.

Francisco Cuellar, the owner of La Raza, told News4Jax that he recognized the man captured on surveillance footage, who police are still working to identify.

"It's a customer I've seen a couple of time coming here to the store to buy drinks. I never thought he's going to take something," Cuellar said. "I'm really mad because people (are) trying to help the little girl."

It was the second theft of a donation jar meant for the family of Heidy Rivas Villanueva, who was shot and killed Aug. 11 in the parking lot of a Westside strip mall.

On Saturday, Tammy Crews was arrested just hours after JSO posted surveillance video on social media showing a woman swipe a donation jar containing $600 from the counter of Tapatio Restaurant on 103rd Street. The restaurant is located in the strip mall where police said Heidy was caught in the crossfire of a shootout. Five people have been arrested in the case.

Since then, the Sheriff's Office said, Jack Hanania, founder of the Hanania Auto Group, replenished the $600 in that jar, which was intended for Heidy's family.

Anyone who recognizes the man seen in the surveillance video below is asked to call the Sheriff's Office at 904-630-0500. To remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS (8477).

Officer Melissa Bujeda, spokeswoman for the Sheriff's Office, reminded businesses to frequently take money out of donation and tip jars, and put the money in a safe place. She also urged restaurant and store owners to place the jar close to an employee who can keep an eye on it,

"It's a complete crime of opportunity," Bujeda said. "We do see these, especially with tip jars and restaurants, window ordering-type places, where people might just put a couple bucks in. Those jars end up going missing."

Last year, police arrested a man who they said stole charity donations from a tip jar at a Southside restaurant in December 2016.

According to police, Chinese restaurants are often targeted.

As for the Arlington store owner, Cuellar said he's now taking steps to prevent a similar theft in the future.

"I put (the jar) close to the register," he said. "I have more control over there."

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