By Mai Martinez

CROWN POINT, Ind. (CBS) – Police want the public’s help in catching a cold-hearted thief who stole money meant for an 11-year-old cancer patient.

The man got away with a donation jar, but as CBS 2’s Mai Martinez reports,  surveillance cameras were all over the building capturing his every move.

Last Friday evening, he walked into The Smoke Shop on Main Street in Crown Point, Ind. and walked out with a jar full of cash donations.

“I just hope he gets caught because it’s absolutely ridiculous, makes me sick,” manager Laura Jewart says.

The donations were for 11-year-old Austin Wielgos, who is fighting Hodgkins Lymphoma. The money was to help his family pay medical bills.

“I don’t know exactly how much was actually in there, but I don’t care if it was a penny. It did not belong to him,” Jewart says.

Workers say the man had been in the store earlier in the day — casing the shop, they believe. Surveillance video seems to support that.

The man later distracted the clerk by asking for rolling papers. When she turned her back, he grabbed the jar.

Now, instead of a jar by the register, there are two pictures of the suspect and a note about the theft.

“I was angry, I really was,” customer Dan Saffa says. “It’s not right for somebody to do that for somebody that’s in need.”

But the theft has actually prompted an outpouring of support for young Austin.

“People are just coming in. They don’t smoke. They’ve never been in here, just to drop off money,” Jewart says.

The donations keep coming in. As for the suspect, he’s still at large, but hopefully that won’t be for long given the quality of the surveillance video.

If you have information, contact Crown Point Detective Sgt. Norm Isaacs at (219) 663-2131 ext. 129 or by email at

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