Suspect Caught on Camera Stealing Donation Box for Wounded Soldiers

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LODI --

Security cameras in a Lodi fast food restaurant Friday captured a man running off at high speed, while simultaneously setting a new low.

The owner of the A&W Restaurant on East Lodi Avenue says that man stole a donation box full of money set aside for the Wounded Warrior Project.

Surveillance video of the incident has gone viral, prompting some in Lodi, including some family members, to offer the suspect's name to police.

Detectives are investigating.

The video shows the man paying for an ice cream cone that he's not going to take. He waits for a few seconds, but when the cashier turns to make his order, he grabs the donation box and sprints out the door.

"The soldiers, they're fighting for our country out there. It's the least we can do to give back to them. I mean, They're risking their lives for us," said Alex Denero, a 10-year-old patron of the restaurant.

It's obvious, even to the youngest, why helping a hurt veteran is so worthwhile.

It's obvious even if, for some, it's something hard to talk about.

"I really can't talk about it. I just can't," said Dave Coberly of Stockton, his voice choking with emotion. "Those guys are out there. They're doing what they can. So much push-back."

Coberly said his brother is a Vietnam War veteran.

The store's owner, Pete Knight, says it had been a busy Friday and there was probably between $50 and $100 in the box when it was stolen.

Knight said the man who did it is a semi-regular at A&W. Surveillance shows he had even come in earlier that day and ordered an ice cream cone then, too.

Their goal at this A&W is to raise a few thousand dollars for the Wounded Warrior Project by Thursday.

"Stealing money is bad for one thing. But stealing money for soldiers who are wounded? It's worse," said 12-year-old Maddy Doscher, a patron.

"Maybe they've got a tough life too. But man ... the guys they are taking it from ... it's kind of like stealing from the plate at church," Coberly said.

And if the suspect is running off with your faith in human decency, along with the donation box -- get ready to pour yourself a root beer and root for humanity. Because when the video went viral thousands saw it, and the very next day, donations tripled, and then quadrupled.

You can donate to the Wounded Warrior Project, here.