GLEN CARBON — Since last June, visitors to the Glen Carbon IHOP have tossed their change into a collection jar on the counter for Mary Timms.
But on Monday, a thief walked away with some of those donations, swiping the jar between 1:30 and 2 a.m.
Timms was an employee from the restaurant's initial opening in 2011. Last year she was diagnosed with breast cancer and has been unable to work while undergoing treatment.
The employees put out the donation jar to help Timms with her expenses. It is decorated with pink paper, a picture of Timms and a few paragraphs about her struggle.
"The donations have been able to help her with some of her costs," said restaurant owner Kal Ramadan.
There are surveillance cameras both inside and outside the restaurant.
Glen Carbon Police Detective David Zarr said officers were going through all the footage to find the person responsible.
"The good news, if there is good news in this, is that it had just been emptied, so we are not expecting a large sum of money was lost," Zarr said. "Hopefully they didn't get too much out of it."
The restaurant put out a new jar for Timms, and with all the attention brought from the theft, they gathered more than $900 in one day.
Wednesday will be a benefit day for Timms, with 20 percent of all sales 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. going to her assistance.
"She is a wonderful person, nice and down-to-earth," Ramadan said. "She is genuinely a good person."
Restaurant manager Judy Lepping called her a "ray of sunshine," as Timms has gone through three surgeries and is facing at least one more. "She's a fighter," Lepping said.
Ramadan and Lepping were surprised that someone just walked in and took the jar, especially because it was right under a camera and had Timms' face on the front.
Anyone with information about the theft should call the Glen Carbon Police Department at 618-288-7226 or CrimeStoppers anonymous tip line at 866-371-8477. CrimeStoppers may pay up to $1,000 for information leading to an arrest.
Contact reporter Elizabeth Donald at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2507.