Thief swipes money for childhood cancer research, community responds with hundreds in donations

Local News

AUBURN, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Donations designated for childhood cancer research were taken from a restaurant in Auburn on Sunday.

The money was supposed to be for a St. Baldrick’s fundraiser but was swiped by a suspect at the Mesa Grande Taqueria. Auburn Police are trying to track down the suspect.

The restaurant’s general manager, Kelli Scott, shaves her head ever year to raise money for childhood cancer research. After raising more than $9,000 last year, her goal this year is $10,000.

She said that on Sunday a man took the jar that had more than $200 in it.

“He was kind of just standing toward the register. He sat down he came back up and while my employees were helping other customers, he took the donation jar stuck it under his shirt and walked out the door,” Scott said.

It has been a difficult week for Kelli. She also just found out a friend’s nephew was diagnosed with a form of childhood cancer at only 6-years-old.

“My heart shattered for them,” she said.

Since posting about what happened on Monday, Kelli has been met with the best of humanity.

Customers of Mesa Grande, community members, and even complete strangers have chipped in to help her get back on track.

She raised more than $800 in one day and says her goal of $10,000 raised by March 29 is still in reach. As of Tuesday night, she had a total of more than $2,400.

“My heart is pretty full honestly,” she said. “I went from this devastating moment to being filled with so much love and kindness from this community it is really shocking.”

If you would like to help Kelli Scott, click here.

She says there will be more formal fundraisers in the coming weeks.

You can watch the surveillance video below.

Auburn Police say the person they are looking for is in his 20s, about 5’5″ with black hair, dark colored eyes, a chinstrap type beard and a faint mustache.

Police also say the suspect was wearing dark colored pants, black sneakers, and a flat-brimmed baseball hat with a black five-point leaf outlined in red, yellow and green on the front of the hat.

If you have any information that could help with this investigation, please call Auburn Police at 315-253-3231.

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For more local news, follow Josh Martin on Twitter @JoshMartinNC9

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