This Jan. 14 surveillance video from the Sunshine Kitchen & Moonshine Lounge in Brainerd shows a customer taking money from a waitress’ tip cup. The lounge’s owners posted the video on YouTube and had numerous calls from people identifying the woman.
The woman at the Brainerd nightspot acts so casual, standing and looking about, sipping on a drink and fiddling with her hair.
Moments later, she's on the move. She twice dips her hand into a busy waitress' tip cup near the cash register, slips the loot into her purse and leaves the Sunshine Kitchen & Moonshine Lounge without being caught.
Or so she thought.
The restaurant's owners posted surveillance video on YouTube this week of the thief and her suspected lookout in action on that hectic Jan. 14 night.
"Hopefully someone will recognize these 2 women," the video's intro reads. "We'll probably never get Kristy's money back ... but public humiliation can go a long way."
Within 24 hours of the posting Tuesday evening -- wryly dubbed over with the country-rock song "I'm not a Stealer" -- the restaurant fielded numerous calls from people who said they recognized the women and passed along their names.
Owners Phil Holbrook and Matt Taylor turned over the identities to Brainerd police Thursday afternoon.
The officer said he was "not surprised by the names we gave them," Holbrook said. "He said no doubt they'll be bringing them in shortly."
Holbrook said he felt badly for his employee: "It's one thing if someone was trying to steal from us, but from one of our servers -- they get paid minimum wage and tips. It's just horrible."
Kristy Lemcke said she figures she had $70 to $100 stolen by the two women, not a lot of money. But "working for tips is not the easiest job in the world," said the mother who's raising two kids on her own.
Lemcke, who started at the bar in October, said she has seen the women there before, "but I don't know who they are."
Losing tips to itchy fingers "has never been a problem" until this incident, she said, noting that the two took her tips even though "they can afford to drink in a bar."
Holbrook said he has been heartened by the response from the public since he posted the video Tuesday evening.
"People have stopped in and left money for Kristy," he said. Some patrons, after already tipping their server, have paused on the way out and said, "'Hey, could you give Kristy this $10, too?'"
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482