The thief didn’t need caffeine to stir his nerve. He walked into the Blue Stove. Walked past the blueberry buttermilk biscuits and plum crumble pies. Went to the bathroom, then took off with the tip jar.
It was Tuesday, last week, mid-day. Katie Dulin worked the counter, serving homemade pastries, washing antique teacups, wearing an apron just as darling. She did not hear the hoodlum leave. When her next customer went to give her a tip, she saw her Mason jar was gone.
“For somebody to do something like that, they’ve got to have bigger problems than I do. I feel more sorry for him than I am angry,” said Dulin, reflecting over the heist while preparing a key lime pie. “I’m not in the mindset of judging people. I don’t want to be that way. It’s sad.”
The Williamsburg bandit walked out of the Blue Stove with eleven dollars. Three days later, he hit up Variety, a coffee shop three blocks down Graham Ave. Here, he grossed a bit more. Baristas estimate their half-gallon-size Ball jar held over a hundred bucks.
Now a picture of Eminem hangs on the back of Variety’s espresso machine, headlined, “Tip Jar Thief,” parentheses guess the local rascal to be 20 years younger than the rapper. Beneath the wife-beater-clad look alike, bullet points list, “short,” “skinny,” “sketchy,” “maybe on rollerblades.” Then an asterisk, “If you see him, please let us know or punch him in the face.” Followed by, “Thanks! XOXO Variety.”
This time, the thief asked for a glass of water. When he grabbed the jar, Hannah Newburn yelled out a maternal expletive, “Stop, stop, stop,” as she rounded the counter and chased him down Conselyea. Patrons pursued in the chase, as well as “the guy from the deli.” The punk jumped in a red Nissan Sentra—yes, he had a getaway car.
“I was pretty fast after him. But he ran through traffic. If there hadn’t been cars, I’m sure I coulda caught him,” said Newburn, fist up. A partial license plate has been reported. Variety has anchored their tip jar with twine. The Blue Stove jokes of drilling theirs to the counter.
“It’s really uncivilized. Apparently it’s the Great Depression again, and you’ve got to worry about your hard-earned money being stolen,” said Amanda Bret, Variety employee who had her tip jar stolen August 2. She remembers the date because that night she went to Atlantic City, trying to double the tips she did make, and happened to get married.
“Our jobs are not the hardest jobs,” Bret continues, passing over an iced Americano, “But we, you know, we work for our money, it doesn’t just come. I’d like to tell this guy to get a job.”