Suspect in donation jar theft turns himself in

December 22, 2011 3:17:00 PM PST
Charges have been filed against a man who police say was caught on surveillance video stealing a donation jar intended to help a cancer patient.

Forty-five-year-old Joseph Campione turned himself into suburban Crestwood police Thursday morning. He has now been charged with felony theft.

Police say this was a crime of opportunity, both cold and callous, but they also say some good has come from it. Not only did the individual accused of stealing a collection jar with about $125 in it turn himself into police, but also, a young woman battling cancer got to experience the true spirit of the season.

Christmas continues to come early for Kelly Stawicki.

"I appreciate it a lot. I never would expect people to donate, especially if you don't know them," said Stawicki.

The 27-year-old, who has cancer, received hundreds of dollars more in donations the same day the suburban man accused of stealing a collection jar for her earlier this month turned himself into authorities.

"Our Christmas right now is fantastic, because of everybody here in this room. We want to thank you all very much," said Nick Becker, Kelly's stepdad.

Joseph Campione's arrest comes only days after police released surveillance video of the theft at a Crestwood convenience store.

"He appeared to be remorseful and realized what a mistake he had made, but he was not gonna make any statements," said Crestwood director of police service Dave Weigand.

Investigators say the video shows the 45 year old Palos Hills man walking into the Shop-Mart at 136th and Cicero on the afternoon of December 5 and taking the money after making a purchase of his own.

"I couldn't believe it. I mean, I know there's bad people out there, I always try to find some good in everybody," said Claudette Bernatowicz, Kelly's aunt.

While numerous tips led to Campione's identification, police say it was guilt that forced Campione to surrender. He has been charged with felony theft.

Campione's wife and mother left court without comment after a judge issued a $100,000 bond because of his prior theft and drug offenses.

"I think when the evidence flushes out in this case, you're gonna see there are some extenuating circumstances that haven't come to light yet," said Campione's attorney Michael Gillespie.

Meanwhile, the family of Kelly Stawicki still holds out hope for her recovery. She has been battling stage III colon cancer and has no insurance since being laid off in August.

An anonymous donor already gave Stawicki $10,000 to offset the $13,000 a month her chemotherapy drugs cost.

"The support from everybody, including people that I don't know, it's overwhelming," said Stawicki.

While they continue to try to raise money to offset the medical cost, Stawicki will continue her treatment through April. She goes just about every other week for chemo.

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