The holiday spirit was briefly shattered two weeks ago when three men reportedly stole a Salvation Army can full of donated money from the Vineyard Haven Stop & Shop that was meant to go toward helping needy Island families.
But thanks to deft police work by Tisbury police, especially Det. Mark Santon, the three suspects have been charged and all the money returned to the Salvation Army.
Tisbury police last week arrested Michael Brymer, 35, of Tisbury, Roy Cavanaugh, 46, of West Tisbury and Timothy Wey, 28, of Oak Bluffs on felony charges of larceny from a building and conspiracy to commit a crime. All three men have been arraigned in Edgartown district court and are scheduled to return for a Jan. 9 for a pretrial hearing.
During arraignment, the Hon. Joseph Macy ordered that Mr. Brymer — who allegedly stole the donation canister on Nov. 29 by hiding it under his jacket — make full restitution. As a condition of bail, Judge Macy ordered that Mr. Brymer deliver to the courthouse a money order for $300 made out to the Salvation Army within 24 hours of his release.
A surveillance video from the store shows Mr. Brymer chatting with Mr. Cavanaugh and Mr. Wey near the front courtesy desk before covering the bucket with the flap of his jacket while the clerk was turned away. The three men are seen laughing on tape before Mr. Brymer headed toward the door with the cash.
Police and Salvation Army officials said the theft was no laughing matter.
“We’re getting quite a reaction from residents across the Island on this [theft], and I can understand why,” Tisbury police chief John Cashin said. “It’s quite upsetting to learn that someone stole money from [an organization] trying to do good for everyone . . . this [money] was to help people in need.”
Richard Reinhardsen, chairman of the Island chapter of the Salvation Army Service Unit, agreed.
“This type of theft has never happened to us on the Island. It is disturbing when you consider this money was to help young people and families . . . if these people were truly in need, they could have contacted us and we would have done our best to help them,” he said.
The police report from Detective Santon said he responded to Stop & Shop on Dec. 1 and spoke with manager Sam Koohy and assistant manager Sara Reed. The detective said he watched the tape and recognized Mr. Cavanaugh and Mr. Wey, although he did not recognize the third suspect.
Ms. Reed told police she contacted the Salvation Army on Nov. 28 to tell them the canister was full and ready for pickup. She noticed the donation canister was missing the following evening and questioned employees, but no one knew what had happened to the canister.
Ms. Reed called the Salvation Army and learned they had yet to retrieve the canister. Store officials then watched the surveillance tape and immediately called the police. Detective Santon showed the tape to probation officer Peter Zona, state police Sgt. Jeff Stone, state police Sgt. Neil Maciel and members of the Tisbury and Oak Bluffs police departments.
They confirmed the identities of Mr. Wey and Mr. Cavanaugh, while officer Zona, Sergeant Stone and Oak Bluffs Det. Nicholas Currelli suggested the third suspect might be Mr. Brymer.
After being questioned separately by police, Mr. Brymer and Mr. Wey were later both placed under arrest; Mr. Cavanaugh was also arrested when he appeared at the Edgartown courthouse on another matter.
The stolen canister was later recovered on Monroe avenue in Oak Bluffs. The money was gone, the padlock was gone and the top of the can was bent.