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Suspects sought in alleged funeral donations theft

February 9, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
A local restaurant and police need the public's help in tracking down two suspects who stole a donation box used to collect money for a family's funeral expenses.

The incident happened over a week ago. Surveillance cameras captured the theft inside of Antigua Guatemala Restaurant and store in Harbor City. It shows a woman distracting an employee as a man eyed the donation box at the counter. The box was clearly marked as a donation box to help the family of Maria Hernandez bury a loved one.

After eyeing the box, the man placed it on the floor and left the restaurant. He returned several minutes later and asked for change. He then circled the business to make sure no one was watching before he picked up the box and left.

"I feel awful for what they did because it was for something that we were trying to help somebody out," said the restaurant owner's son, Ronnie Pineda.

Pineda said the donation box was full, so he estimates the bandits made off with close to $1,000, which was collected over the span of about a week.

The restaurant has since put out a new donation box for the family. He said that up until this incident, never in the 20 years that his family has owned the restaurant has a donation box been stolen.

"We keep more track of everything now to make sure nobody is coming here and doing this again," Pineda said.

Pineda did file a police report, and he hopes the suspects will come forward, apologize for what they did and return the money.

Anyone with information about this case is asked to contact the LAPD Harbor Division at (310) 726-7700.

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