Donations pour in after jar stolen from Mullica Hill diner

Thursday, August 10, 2017
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Donation jar theft suspects ID'd. Dann Cuellar reports during Action News at 11 p.m. on August 9, 2017.

MULLICA HILL, N.J. (WPVI) -- The owner of a New Jersey diner said donations are pouring in after a man stole a jar containing money meant for charity.

The theft happened around 6:13 a.m. Tuesday at Harrison House Diner in Mullica Hill, Gloucester County.

Surveillance video of the crime shows the suspect hanging out by the counter.

"He waited for the waitress, who was the only one at the time, to go in the kitchen and get food for one of the customers," Constantine Benas of the Harrison House Diner said.

After standing around for about 30 seconds, he casually reaches down, grabs the jar, and leaves the diner.

Police say an accomplice was waiting in a getaway car for the thief.

The jar stolen was used to collect money for 'Your Place at the Table,' a local food pantry for needy families.

"It's pretty low-life I'd say," Mullica Hill resident Roy Duffield said.

"There's nothing lower, you're trying to help people and then you just come in and steal?" Jerry Heller of Winona, NJ said.

The collection jar had approximately $200 for the food pantry.

"What this organization does is it provides a full meal once a month and that $200, I was told would feed four families for a month," Benas said.

Police say the surveillance footage was so good, they were quickly able to identify the culprits: 27-year-old Anthony Alberti of Long Branch, New Jersey and, the driver, Michael DeFillippo from Wall, New Jersey.

The operators of the diner put the story on their Facebook page and it quickly went viral.

People started reaching out from all across the tri-state area to donate money.

"Last night, we hand a customer come in and hand over the entire value of the jar in one sitting. $200 in one shot," Benas said.

Benas says the evil of two men was outdone by the generosity of so many good people that will benefit the food pantry.

"Their organization is growing exponentially, they're going to feed even more families this year," Benas said.

Meanwhile, the two suspects remain on the loose. Harrison Township police say Alberti and DeFillippo face charges of theft and related offenses.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police.


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