Funeral expense donation jar stolen for beloved Benicia employee

Benicia police are looking for tips to catch a thief.

All the money in this case was coming from donations of people who shop at a local store.

The money was meant to go to the family of Mika Haro, who made a lot of friends just doing his job.

For the past five years, he’s been a beloved employee at Bob’s Liquor and Food on West J Street in Benicia.

That changed Tuesday when the 26-year-old suddenly died from what the store owner said may have been a heart attack.

"He was such a wonderful kid, you know.  Like, for us, a son, whole town.  Whole town is missing him.  He was such a great boy." Baljit Kaur, owner of the store.

Customer Eduardo Garcia lives across the street and saw Haro almost every day.

"Mike was a great guy, man," Garcia said. "He was absolutely not just your regular register person.  He actually like, cared about you."

The store put out a donation box to help Haro’s family pay for funeral expenses.

But the man walking toward the store in this surveillance video Saturday afternoon would temporarily derail that plan.

Police want to track him down.

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He's wearing dark sweatpants, a sweatshirt, and cap with what looks like an S on the front.

He acts as though he intends to buy beer, but what he's really buying is time to steal.

After distracting the woman working the register the video shows him grabbing the donation box, and take off.

"Wow, wow, that’s incredible.  But, Karma, Karma comes to get you," said Garcia.

The store estimates hundreds of dollars were taken because so many people have been generously giving.

A new donation box has replaced the one taken, but cash doesn’t stay inside long, as the owners decided it's better to frequently remove the money and put it in a safer place.

So, the stolen funds will be replenished.

What can’t be replaced is Haro, a guy who apparently did his job in a unique and special way that touched the lives of others.

"You can talk to anybody in the store, any customers," said Kaur.  "I never get any single complaint the last five years.  People were always, ‘you are so lucky you have Mike. You are so lucky.’"

Authorities are urging anyone who recognizes the suspect in the surveillance photo to call Benicia police. 

The Police Officers Association has made a donation to help with some stolen cash.

Friends have also set up a Go Fund Me page to help the family with funeral expenses.