It’s a familiar sight at many stores and restaurants. A money box, or jar, to collect change for a cause is common on many counters. The box at Fiesta Mexicana Restaurant in London had nearly $70 in it when workers say a customer took more than his receipt after paying for his meal.
“I was standing right here because I knew he would do something,” says waitress Maria Baker, who says she noticed the customer acting suspicious when he was paying for his meal at the restaurant counter.
Baker said when she was called back to wait on another table, the man took the box of money for Shriner's kids and ran.
“It just makes me mad, because it's for kids, you know,” said Baker of the heist.
Baker chased after the man, whom police identified as Christopher Lawson, 21, of London. Police say he was found in a nearby field. Baker says he was found holding the box but he still denied that he stole it.
“He tells me, don't call police on me, I didn't do it. It was my friend,” said Baker of Lawson’s alibi.
But workers and police say they knew otherwise. Lawson was already in trouble on charges of taking a similar donation jar from a London Speedway store in December. Police say he was caught red-handed then, too, when he was found counting $11.94 from the jar at his kitchen table.
“I was telling that police officer, I don't know how he can do that. It's for those places where people need that money,” said Baker.
Lawson is still at the Laurel County Detention Center, because he's already serving 180 days from the theft case at the Speedway store.