Tip jar bandit captured on camera becomes infamous on Facebook

Tip jar bandit captured on camera becomes infamous on Facebook
(Source: Jambalaya Shoppe surveillance video)
(Source: Jambalaya Shoppe surveillance video)
(Source: WAFB)
(Source: WAFB)
(Source: WAFB)
(Source: WAFB)
(Source: WAFB)
(Source: WAFB)

GONZALES, LA (WAFB) - They have been walking up to the Jambalaya Shoppe for 25 years. Owner Andy Fontenot started working in the family business when he was still in high school.

"It's a good location," Fontenot said. "It's a good business. We've been blessed."

On Wednesday afternoon, those blessings turned sour. It happened just as things slowed down after the lunch rush. Cashier Shara Givens had stepped away from the counter for a break. The rest of the staff was in the kitchen. When Givens returned, something was missing.

"When I got back, it was gone," Givens said. "Sure enough, stole the tip jar."

Givens splits her tips with all her co-workers. She estimates the thief got away with less than $30, but he was caught in the act by a security camera.

"He saw that tip jar got a little smirk on his face, and thought it was a good opportunity," said Fontenot. "He took it and rolled out before we knew what was going on."

The video is clear. A stout man in a blue-striped shirt exits a car, strolls up to the window, and looks in. When he sees no one minding the store, he takes the jar and leaves.

"I was saving my tips, which I do every week, to pay my credit card," said Givens, a single mother.

When they realized what had happened, the workers did not call the police, even though many officers eat there every day.

"They've got bigger things to do," said Fontenot. "In all honesty, we didn't want to see someone get in a whole lot of trouble for something as petty as this."

Instead, they put the tip thief on the internet.

"Within a few hours, it had 5,000 likes." As of Thursday evening, more than 1,500 people had shared the video which had received nearly 40,000 views.

Now, the man in the blue shirt is infamous on Facebook.

"He's probably looking at the video now, wishing he wouldn't have done what he did because it wasn't worth it." said Fontenot.

The workers at the Jambalaya Shoppe want him to know one thing. "I'd like to see the guy come here, apologize, give the girls their money back." said Fontenot. "No harm. No foul. And if he's somebody who needs something -- if he's desperate and he needs food -- we'll take care of him. We'll feed him."

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