Vernal police looking for man who stole Relay for Life donations

Published: Tuesday, May 14 2013 2:45 p.m. MDT

Surveillance video from Walgreens in Vernal shows a man who police say stole a five-gallon container filled with donations for the annual Relay for Life charity event, which raises money to fight cancer.

Vernal Police Department

VERNAL — Police are asking the public to help them track down a man who stole a five-gallon container filled with donations for the American Cancer Society.

Surveillance video shows the man walking into the Walgreens store on U.S. 40 just before 8:45 a.m. Saturday and looking toward the cash registers. He looks at his watch, appears to become frustrated and leaves the store.

Less than a minute later though, he walks back through the front door, picks up a newspaper and then hangs out near the cash registers for nearly 10 minutes.

When the cashier leaves the register unattended, the man walks up and reaches for a five-gallon container that was being used to collect donations for the store's Relay for Life team. But he backs off at the last minute, only to return seconds later to snatch the container and leave the store.

"We don't know how much was in (the container)," said Annalee Foster, co-chairwoman of the American Cancer Society Relay for Life event in the Uintah Basin.

"But people have actually reached out and said, 'You know, instead of getting angry, why don't you just make a donation?'" Foster said. "There's a website you can donate to securely online where nobody can steal it."

Historically, Relay for Life has enjoyed tremendous support from the residents of the Uintah Basin. In 2012, the charity event raised just over $230,000 to fight cancer, Foster said.

"That makes us the biggest Relay in the entire state of Utah," she said, "And per capita, we're the largest Relay for Life in the Western United States and the second largest in the nation.

"So we were just completely shocked that someone would steal from a charity," Foster said. "It just blew our minds."

The man seen stealing the donation container wore white sunglasses, a plaid shirt and jeans. He drove away from the store in a teal-colored Dodge Intrepid, according to police.

Anyone with information about the theft should call Vernal police at 435-789-5835.

The 2013 Uintah Basin Relay for Life takes place June 7-8 at Vernal Middle School.

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