Valdosta Daily Times

May 11, 2013

Thief steals money from child’s charity jar

Quinten Plummer
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — A good Samaritan was able to record the license plate of a getaway car last Saturday before two men reportedly fled a thrift store in the 300 block of Saint Augustine Road with funds a little girl had been collecting for a friend in Florida who suffers from brain cancer.

“It made me sad and I was kind of mad, too,” said Naja Warring, 11, of her stolen funds. “I was hoping that they would get locked up.”

Naja has been raising money for Ellie Szabados for more than a year after meeting the young cancer warrior at a flea market in Jacksonville, said Naja’s father, Bob Warring. Along with wife Tracy, the family decided they’d deliver contributions to Szabados’ cause whenever a certain amount of funds were raised.

“So she had about $40 in the jar last Saturday and two gentlemen came in to sell some stereo equipment,” said Bob Warring, owner of Bargain Blues. “I wasn’t here, but she told them that we weren’t buying anything right now. So they left and came back an hour and a half later.”

The two assailants split up when they returned to the store, according to Bob who said one went into his family’s store and the other headed into the neighboring business.

“My wife was using the restroom, so Naja went back to tell her we had customers,” said Bob. “When she peeked around the corner to see where the guy was, he had the jar. He pulled his jacket up and dumped all of the money down his shirt. Naja said, hey, he stole the money.”

Tracy said she didn’t know what money her daughter was talking about, whether the cash in the drawer or the jar. So they alerted the owner of the neighboring store, prompting the two assailants to make a run for their vehicle, Bob said.

“One of our customers blocked them in and took the car’s tag number,” Bob said Friday. “So Tracy called yesterday and the detective that was assigned the case said they had tracked the car back to its owner. But that’s all we know right now.”

After learning of the incident, another family-run business topped off the charity jar with $125, Bob said.

To find out more about Ellie Szabados’ battle with brain cancer and to learn how you can help, visit the Prayers for Ellie Szabados group on Facebook.