Police search for woman who stole cancer survivor's donation jar

East Haven police are searching for a woman who they said stole a donation jar from a liquor store. (East Haven Police image)

East Haven police and the owner of a local liquor store is asking for the public's help to identify a woman spotted in surveillance video stealing a donation jar from the cashier counter.

The owner of the East Haven Discount Wine and Liquors, located on Foxon Road, Hiten Patel, known as Henry to his customers, told police he set the jar out to collect money for cancer research.

Bearing the scars of cancer, Patel said he vowed to donate to the Smilow Cancer Hospital as often as he could after he was treated with care and compassion when he was treated for tongue cancer over the summer.

"The people at Smilow took care of me like my own family," described Patel. "Seeing those little kids with cancer just broke me down one day when I was on the floor. So I said I’m going to pay it back."

Patel said he plans to match every dollar from the donation jar with his own money before the end of the year, and donate it to Smilow Cancer Hospital.

"Because people give them from their heart, and even if they don’t have the money, they’ll donate 50 cents or a dollar just to be part of it," said Patel.

Images from the surveillance video depict a heavier set woman who police said may be white or Hispanic, wearing a grey American Eagle hoodie and sunglasses taking the jar from the counter. Police said it is unknown whether she took off on foot or by car.

But, Patel told Eyewitness News that he simply wants an apology from the thief, who he said made off with about $40.

"If she would’ve asked me for money I would’ve gave it to her," said Patel. "Taking that kind of money from somebody and it’s going to a good cause that’s what bothered me and I couldn’t sleep that night."

East Haven police told Eyewitness News that if the suspect is caught, she will face a larceny charge, but that this is a moral issue.

"You come back say 'I’m sorry because I needed money for whatever reason,' I’ll give her the money," said Patel.

Those with any information are asked to contact the East Haven Police Department at 203-468-3820 or the East Haven Police Department Facebook page inbox.

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