Teen duo using ruse to steal tip jars

Posted at 6:46 PM, Sep 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-01 22:02:59-04

CHULA VISTA, Calif. - A pair of young thieves caught on camera stealing a tip jar from a restaurant may be linked to a series of thefts in Chula Vista.

At Bamboo Bistro Mongolian Grill in Eastlake, owner Jeannie Han pours a lot of love into her food, a serving of affection which in turn piles up in the tip jar.

"The tips show us something about their appreciation … the customer's love," said Han.

On Tuesday night, two teens with an eye on that tip jar sauntered up to the register. One of them asked Han for a water cup.

"I thought they were probably thirsty, so I gave a water cup," said Han.

Surveillance video shows that just as Han was about to hand one boy a cup, she saw the other boy snatch the tip jar.

"I just think I've got to do something," said Han.

And she did.

"That's why I grab the wrist of the boy, but he just ran away," said Han.

In the video, after the first boy makes off with the jar, Han can be seen forcefully grabbing the other boy's wrist before he yanks it away.

After the boy took the tip jar, a man standing outside saw him and chased him.

"After 20 minutes, the guy brought the tip jar back to us; so thankful," said Han.

Han believes the man wrestled the jar away from the boys, getting back all but the lid and about $20 in tips.

The boys got away, but police may know who they are.

On Friday, security at Otay Ranch Town Center caught up with two teens after they nabbed tip jars at two restaurants with the same water cup stunt. Police arrested a 14-year-old boy and released him back to his parents.

Days later, the two were apparently right back at it.

10News forwarded information on the latest case to police, who said they will follow up quickly.

A charge of misdemeanor petty theft for the 14-year-old was referred to the district attorney's office.