Chicago Ridge bar shares photos of man they say stole contents of veteran donations bucket

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Jesse's Tavern in Chicago Ridge is the kind of bar where everyone knows your name. Owner Kathy McKinney said patrons also know about the bucket to collect loose change which is then donated to area veterans.

But a man appeared to help himself to the money on a busy Friday night, even with several customers nearby.

"I'm sure somebody would have gone hey!, because we work for our veterans in this community," she said.

Surveillance video shows a man in a coat walking over to the ATM in the bar. He reaches up to grab the bucket sitting on top of the machine, then he puts it under his coat and walks outside. After a few minutes he comes back in and puts the bucket back in its place.

"I'm surprise nobody saw anything, but he was slick," McKinney said.

McKinney said bar employees discovered the bucket was empty Saturday morning. She said it usually collects an average of $100 a night during the weekend, and the tavern's effort to donate to veterans is well known.

"We're able to give them $1000 every year just from people throwing their change in there," she said.

McKinney filed a police report, and put the surveillance images on the tavern's Facebook page.

"With something like that, I would think he's a repeat offender or he's from the area, so it will be big that we can get that out there in critical reach, we can get it out there on social media," said Police Chief Jim Jarolimek.

In the meantime, patrons are pitching in to help the tavern make up the lost. Mikel Whicher donated $50 to the bucket.

"I hope he brings it back," Whicher said. "We don't know his situation, but it's not right either way. But maybe he'll bring it back."

McKinney said tips have been coming in about who may have taken the money. She said they have no plans to move the bucket; it will stay where it's always been.
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