Suspect arrested in theft of local Girl Scout's cash box - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Suspect arrested in theft of local Girl Scout's cash box

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Erik Mullen, age 28 (Facebook photo) Erik Mullen, age 28 (Facebook photo)

SAN DIEGO (CBS 8/CNS) —  A 28-year-old man was behind bars Monday for allegedly snatching a cash box from a Girl Scout selling cookies in front of a Clairemont grocery store.

Erik Mullen was booked into jail on suspicion of petty theft, receiving stolen property, possession of a controlled substance and other charges around 9:45 p.m. Sunday, according to San Diego police and jail records.

Mullen allegedly took the cookie proceeds from the victim, Leyla Hayward, who had set up a sales table with her mother outside the Vons store in the Clairemont Town Square shopping center on Clairemont Drive, around 3 p.m. Sunday, which was her last day of selling cookies. She only needed to sell around 100 more to reach her goal of a thousand, when the theft happened.  

"There was a guy that was just standing around, didn't think much of it," said Leyla. "I had my hand right here. He came up and snatched the box and ran down that way." 
 
Leyla and her mom say the suspect was a white man in his 20's around 6'0'' tall and he made off with about $450. Money that was going back to the community.  

"We're working on our silver award, which most of this money was going to go towards, where we like help the homeless or we do something with animals," Leyla said.

Security on hand interviewed Leyla and her mother. 

Police officers were also called to the Vons store in the Clairemont Town Square shopping center in the 4800 block of Clairemont Drive, according to officer John Buttle. 

But police were left a significant clue.  

"When he was running off he dropped his cell phone," said Leyla's mother Deema. 

Leyla was able to see not only the worst in people, but also the best.  

"I was really excited by the response of people who helped us and, some guy tried to go after him, some people donated some money - just to help," said Leyla. 

Following media reports of the crime on Sunday, the offices of the San Diego Girl Scouts received donations to cover the cash lost.  On Monday, the Girl Scouts issued the following statement to CBS News 8:

We are grateful for the community’s compassionate response to the theft of cookie money from a 12-year-old member of Girl Scout Troop 4565. The girl involved and her mother said they have been touched by the reactions of people who were on the scene, as well as concerned individuals who learned about the incident. They also praised the San Diego Police Department for its excellent response.

All of the stolen money has been replaced by donations from generous members of the community. Any funds in excess of the amount lost will be contributed to Operation Thin Mint in Troop 4565’s name. Operation Thin Mint is a local program that sends Girl Scout Cookies and notes of support to deployed U.S. military troops.

The safety of the girls we serve is the primary concern of Girl Scouts San Diego. The Girl Scout and mother involved in this unfortunate incident were following the specific safety and regulatory guidelines we have established for those who participate in the cookie program, and we are grateful that they are safe.

Yesterday was the conclusion of the 2017 Girl Scout Cookie Program in San Diego. More than 13,000 local girls participated in cookie sales, learning valuable life and leadership skills while raising money for their troop activities and community service projects. All proceeds stay local, and also fund camp, volunteer training, and the financial assistance that keeps Girl Scouting available and affordable. Thank you to everyone who purchased cookies and donated to Operation Thin Mint in 2017, the 100th year of Girl Scouts selling cookies.

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