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Stealing restaurant tip jars? Two Idaho men charged with felonies — over less than $30

Aug. 5, 2022 Updated Fri., Aug. 5, 2022 at 7:10 p.m.

By Kalama Hines Idaho Statesman

Two men are facing felony charges after allegedly stealing the tip jar at a Pocatello soda shop and restaurant, and taking money from another restaurant.

Jonathon James Keele, 28, of Grace, has been charged with principal to burglary, according to court records. Timothy William Halpin, 27, of Pocatello, has been charged with two counts of burglary after authorities said he was tied to a similar theft in Chubbuck.

Pocatello police received a call from a soda shop on the 4100 block of Pole Line Road around 6 p.m. on July 19 reporting a theft, according to an affidavit of probable cause.

When officers arrived, they were shown security video from inside the business. The footage showed two men approaching the counter. The first man, later identified as Keele, asked the cashier for water. When the cashier turned around to get a cup of water, Keele stepped aside, allowing the second man, later identified as Halpin, to take the tip jar, police said.

After grabbing the jar, Halpin ran out of the store. Keele quickly followed him. The two men got into a silver Chevrolet Cobalt and drove away, the affidavit says.

Employees told the officers that the tip jar contained around $25.

Officers said they found Keele at a motel in the 1300 block of Bench Road a short time later.

Keele told officers he was at the soda shop to get water for a passenger in the car. He said he was unaware of Halpin’s intention to take the tip money.

While officers were investigating the theft at the soda shop, another theft was reported at a nearby Mexican restaurant. The description of a man who stole a tip jar from the restaurant matched Halpin. The reporting party told officers a driver had been waiting for Halpin in a Chevy Cobalt. The driver’s description matched that of Keele, according to the affidavit.

The manager of the restaurant told officers that an employee heard the bell at the front door ring but was unable to get to the customer immediately. So the manager looked at the video from the camera at the front and saw the man take the jar and run out of the restaurant.

Officers noted in their reports that the incident occurred just after 4:45 p.m. The incident at the soda shop occurred nearly an hour later, just before 5:45 p.m.

Keele told officers that he was asked to pick up his brother’s friend, Halpin, near the restaurant. He said that Halpin needed to get water, so they stopped at the restaurant. He said he did not think anything of it when Halpin exited the restaurant without water.

It was later learned that the restaurant tip jar contained only $3.

Police officers said they found Halpin around 9:30 a.m. the following morning, walking on the 100 block of East Center Street. As officers approached him in their vehicle, Halpin ran away. Officers were able to catch up with and arrest him.

He was taken to Bannock County Jail.

Both men are being held, Keele on a $5,000 bond and Halpin on a $40,000 bond.

Keele could face up to 10 years in prison and $50,000 in fines. Halpin could face up to 20 years and $100,000 in fines.

Preliminary hearings in both cases were waived. Neither has a date for district court arraignment scheduled.

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