SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) – A man was caught on camera stealing a jar filled with donations for charity from the counter of an El Cerrito El Pollo Loco restaurant.

When Ricardo Alvarez, who has owned the El Pollo Loco for 20 years, noticed his donation box was missing last Friday, he immediately went to his office to check the surveillance video.

He was stunned when he saw the thief was with a little girl.

The video captured a man holding the little girl’s hand as they walked into the restaurant. They stood in line to order food. The man paid with cash and was given change.

Once the man received his food, he made a stop at the salsa bar – all typical customer behavior until he looked around and when he noticed no one was watching, took the donation jar with him and walked out.

“I feel really bad for her because what kind of teaching is he giving her,” said Alvarez.

Three different security cameras captured them man swiping the charity box like it was part of his meal.

“It is very hurtful because we try to help charity and the customers put their own money – their leftover change, sometimes they put in dollar bills,” he said.

Alvarez said he had just emptied the charity box, so it probably contained just a few dollars. He wants his customers to know what took place at his El Pollo Loco, and is publicly shaming the thief – hoping someone will recognize the man.

Better yet, Alvarez said he hopes the man is a repeat customer. “I would like him to see himself and be ashamed of what he did for such little money.”

Alvarez said he did not report the crime to police because of the small amount of money that was taken. 

The public is asked that if they recognize the man in the surveillance photos, to ask him to return the donation box - no questions asked. 

As for the donations, all of the money is given to El Pollo Loco corporate offices, which support various charities including ones that feed needy children.