Thief steals donations from firefighter fundraiser

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Philadelphia Police released surveillance video of a man allegedly stealing gift cards that were about to be auctioned to raise money for the families of the two fallen firefighters.

With one flick of the wrist, police say the man opened his knife and slashed his way into one gift baskets that were to be raffled off in a fundraiser for the families of firemen Robert Neary and Daniel Sweeney.

"I was upset that the guys weren't even in the ground yet and this scumbag came and did this at an event where there were 400 or 500 firemen here," said Brian Haughton.

SmokeEaters Pub Owner and firefighter Brian Haughton says it is sickening to think that while people from all over, including firefighters, were upstairs celebrating the lives of their fallen brothers; the man was in the basement stuffing his pockets.

Police say he took an unknown amount of gift cards.

"It could have been $500 bucks; it could have been $1,000 dollars worth of items," Haughton said.

The pub was so packed Friday night, the owner allowed people to skip the lines for the bathrooms and use his office bathroom downstairs. He says that's when the suspected thief most likely spotted the gift baskets.

At one point, someone scared the man off, but he returned a minute later to finish the job.

Without pausing, he took his knife, ripped into more gift baskets and rummage through picking whatever he wanted.

"That is so bad so bad," said Doreen Cotter. "You just wonder how they were raised. You just wonder how they were raised. How could you even do something like that? I mean, it's unbelievable."

The Cotters hope the theft doesn't take away from what should be a time to honor Neary and Sweeney.

"We're all about honoring," said Mike Cotter. "I ride with a group that honors our police, our fire, our EMTs and our warriors abroad and here at home."

Even though money was raised for the loved ones of Neary and Sweeney, police say it would have been more if the man had not committed such an unthinkable crime.

"I want the guy caught and forgotten about," said Haughton. "We don't need to take anything anyway from these heroes."

Police are asking anyone with information that could help identify the suspect to contact Northeast Detectives at 215-686-3153 or call 215-686-TIPS.

To view the surveillance video, click the link below.


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theft, philadelphia fire department, northeast philadelphia, philadelphia, pennsylvania, local/state, kenneth moton
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