Thief caught on video stealing from registers at SF businesses

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Two local businesses in San Francisco were hit by a thief that used the same tactic to steal money straight from the cash register.

The theft took less than 15 seconds, in both cases, the suspect waited for employees to look away and went straight for the cash register.

There were approximately 12 customers at San Francisco's restaurant Urban Bowls on Friday at 7:30 p.m.

One of them was a man who walked up to their register and stole $400.

"He reached his arm around. Felt for the key, turned it and then grabbed the money and closed the drawer and just went straight down this way," said Urban Bowls Manager, Frankie Lee.

Lee believes the theft took 10 seconds.

Those were exactly the 10 seconds when two employees walked to the back of the shop leaving the register unattended.

"It's really, it hurts!" said Lee.

Urban Bowls employees watched this video and recognized the suspect from earlier in the day. They believe he was learning their habits and taking notes.

"He came back at night and hung out for about 15 minutes and did the same thing. He ask for a menu, grabbed the water and waited a little bit," said Lee.

After losing hundreds of dollars in a blink of an eye, Lee got to work by foot and online to inform local businesses.

"I made some flyers just to pass around to the local businesses and people in the neighborhood. Because I didn't know if he was someone that was lurking around this neighborhood," said Lee.

1.5 miles away from Urban Bowls, Juan SanMames saw one of Lee's social media posting and recognized the thief.

"We looked at the pictures. The same beard, the same person. They look very similar," said SanMames.

Turns out, Wednesday around 8 p.m. Xanath Ice Cream became a victim of the same theft.

"This guy very calm and very talkative, just walked into the shop, and leaned over and opened up the cash register and walked away," said SanMames.

Xanath Ice Cream was vandalized months ago and now lost $220 dollars, a lot for this local shop.

"I just hope he gets caught before he does it again," said SanMames.

Both businesses filed a police report with SFPD. Over email, SFPD informed ABC7 news they couldn't speak about these thefts due to an ongoing investigation.
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