SALT LAKE CITY — A patron at a Salt Lake City bar apparently turned into a grinch after a night of Christmas cheer.

Monday at 1:30 a.m., as employees of Piper Down Pub, 1492 S. State, were closing for the evening and getting patrons to walk out the door, someone took a handheld electronic scanner used to read the bar codes on drivers' licenses.

The event was captured on the pub's surveillance camera and posted on posted on YouTube by pub owner David Morris on Wednesday.

The video shows six people walking from the pub into the front entrance area. One man, while still holding a female's hand, first picks up a pen from the hostess stand, puts it down, and then casually picks up an electronic bar code reader and walks out with it.

"People make bad choices, especially after a night of having some holiday cheer. They senselessly steal. It doesn't make any sense," Morris said.

Morris isn't sure if the man knew what he was taking or was just after anything that wasn't secured to the stand that he could fit in his coat pocket.

"I hope the guy comes to his senses and looks at it on his nightstand when he wakes up and sees a useless piece of equipment," he said. "It's costing me and my staff $1,100 to cover."

As part of the landmark legislation in Utah that eliminated the private club system, lawmakers required bar owners to install electronic devices and to retain the data collected by scanning drivers' licenses and IDs for seven days to aid in police investigations of alcohol-related crimes.

Earlier this year, four Salt Lake bars and a pub in Ogden were fined by the state for failing to scan the IDs.

Morris said for his business, the scanner is essential. It's state law. The night after the theft, his staff was forced to manually write down the ID numbers of everyone who visited that night. He was working Wednesday to get a loaner scanner until he can buy a new one.

To the public, however, the scanners are useless. Special software and equipment is needed for anyone to read or download the information collected. After a week, the scanner automatically purges all the information collected.

Morris said he has received calls from friends identifying some of the people in the video. But the main culprit was not known Wednesday afternoon. Morris said there was nothing about him that made anyone take special notice of him inside the pub that night.

"He's so vanilla that nobody recognized him," he said.

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Anyone with information about the thief or the scanner can call the pub at 801-468 1492. Morris said he would even give a reward for someone to return the device.

He encouraged the person who took it to even just stop by and put it back where he found it.

e-mail: preavy@desnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam