Police searching for man who stole Toys-For-Tots donations from local gas station

Posted at 6:30 PM, Dec 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-14 18:30:27-05

DOWAGIAC, Mich. — Monday morning started off like any normal day for Shell gas station manager Tina Behnke. That was until her employee asked an unusual question.

“The cashier says ‘Hey where’s our Toys for Tots box?’” said Behnke during an interview at the station. “We got back on the footage, the cameras, and we looked back and noticed when it was missing.”

Their Toys-For-Tots donations box was stolen from their counter Sunday night, Behnke said. The surveillance video shows that around 11pm a man wearing a black athletic coat walked through their doors and first checked to see if the box was movable. He then walked away for a few minutes, she said, returning with lottery bet slips and began filling them out.

“Customers were still very busy, keeping the cashier busy,” said Behnke. “After a while he just stood up and slid that box underneath his coat, turned in a circle and walked right out the front door.”

Behnke was shocked. So were her employees. They couldn't believe someone would do this to children, especially ones in need.

“It’s like, really," said Behnke. "For what? Maybe in there, $40 or $50, just to steal from kids at Christmas.”

Immediately they called the police and showed them the surveillance video. Police then posted pictures of the man and his vehicle on their Facebook page. Cashiers at the station posted the same pictures near their cash registers hoping that someone will see it and speak up.

“It's very violating,” said Behnke.  “We’ve gone through similar things, some worse things. But not when it has to do with kids, especially very needy children.”

For information regarding the incident, Dowagiac police ask that you call the station at (269) 782-9743 or the tip line at 1-800-462-9328 or leave an anonymous tip at