Thief grabs gifts intended for firefighters' families

Police released surveillance video of the man believed to have grabbed gifts intended for the families of two fallen firefighters.
Police released surveillance video of the man believed to have grabbed gifts intended for the families of two fallen firefighters.
Posted: April 16, 2012

THE COLD-HEARTED theft on Friday of items intended to benefit the families of two fallen firefighters has left the city's blood boiling, and now police have released surveillance of the thief.

SmokeEaters Pub, a bar in Holmesburg that caters to firefighters and is also owned by one, was holding a benefit for the families of fallen firefighters Lt. Robert Neary and Daniel Sweeney when the theft occurred.

Neary and Sweeney lost their lives in a five-alarm fire in a vacant Kensington building one week ago Monday, and the benefit at SmokeEaters followed their viewings Friday night.

About 10:40 p.m., a man who went to the basement of the bar to use the bathroom saw gift baskets that were to be raffled off for money. He took a pocket knife, slashed the cellophane and starting cherry-picking the items he wanted, including numerous gift cards, and pocketed them, police said.

He's described as a 40-something white man with short, dark hair, between 5 feet 10 and 6 feet and about 280 to 300 pounds, police said.

A YouTube video of the theft posted by police and SmokeEaters' Facebook page about the theft drew angry comments.

Some people called for the man to be stoned if he's found, others suggested that he be dropped off at the nearest firehouse.

"This guy must be found, and then obliterated from this earth and sent to hell," wrote one man.

Tipsters should call Northeast Detectives at 215-686-3153.


Contact Stephanie Farr at 215-854-4225 or farrs@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @FarFarrAway. Read her blog, "Philly Confidential" at www.phillyconfidential.com.

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