CHICAGO (CBS) — Surveillance video shows a man strolling by a checkout counter at a Wicker Park corner store – just as casually as if he were buying a pack of gum.
But buying a pack of gum he was not.
Instead, as CBS 2’s Charlie De Mar reported, the man took a charity box full of money – right in front of the cashier.
Go Grocer, 2060 W. North Ave., is a convenient and busy neighborhood spot. But the man seen in the video taken Monday had no intention of paying.
“He essentially just like whacked a whole row of stuff; of merchandise onto the floor, and then made his way around to the register,” said Go Grocer employee Lynsi Langert.
Surveillance video shows the man swinging an umbrella and poking at some chips, and then he starts tossing snacks onto the floor.
“Kind of made a mess on one side of the store to divert the direction of our employees that was at the register,” Langert said.
But the cashier did not fall for it. She held her post at the register.
“He made his way up to the register, and looking her dead in the eye, grabbed our charity box filled with money and ripped it from the counter, and walked out with it,” Langert said.
Zip-ties holding down the charity box weren’t strong enough.
Langert said about $20 was in the box the man ripped from the counter, and it was meant for those in need.
“I hope that they needed it more than whoever, but I find it hard to believe, as it’s going to charity,” she said.
And Go Grocer is not the only store targeted for its charity box.
“It keeps happening lately,” Langert said. I don’t know if it’s because of the holiday season creeping up, or if it’s Wicker Park, or what.”
The same kind of theft was reported at Elevated Minds, a smoke shop a few doors down at 2036 W. North Ave., last week.
“It’s heartbreaking for us, and we are trying to do good, and so are other customers who are trying to good when they donate to those boxes,” Langert said, “and for, you know, someone to come in and think they can take that.”
Go Grocer said the hope is that what happened to them will serve as a warning for other businesses. It is unclear if the incidents are connected.