‘Kind of sad:’ Thief steals hundreds from smoke shop in Bay View neighborhood

MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee police are looking for the man responsible for stealing hundreds from a busy Bay View business.

Pipe Dreams on S. Kinnickinnic Avenue has been around for roughly nine years. Never before have the owners had someone reach over the counter and steal from a register. It happened on Monday, March 25. The encounter was captured by a surveillance camera.

For Chandler Swain, working behind the counter at Pipe Dreams is a natural fit.

"People are so open. They love telling me about their lives," Swain said.

Swain has worked at the Bay View smoke shop for almost one year -- learning nearly every product for the customers that come in.

"We have a lot of regulars," Swain said.

Smoke shop thief caught on camera

It was Monday night when a man she had never seen strolled in.

"He was like, walking around, looking at stuff, just like any regular customer," Swain said.

Smoke shop thief caught on camera

When it was time for him to check out, things at the register started out normal.

"He gave me the money," Swain said.

Smoke shop thief caught on camera

But then as Swain counted the cash, the customer rolled up his sleeve and...

"He just, like, went over the counter, grabbed the money and just stormed out," Swain said.

Before Swain knew it, the man was gone -- briefly looking back on his way out.

Smoke shop thief caught on camera

"After that, it was like every emotion in me was going off at once," Swain said.

Swain called police and her manager.

Smoke shop thief caught on camera

"Glad she was courageous and handled it the way that she did," said Brooke Stieghorst, manager.

The thief got away with around $400.

Days later, something the suspect said sticks with Swain.

"He did go, 'I'm so sorry,' before he did it -- which is kind of sad," Swain said.

Workers said they're determined to move forward, with the hope it doesn't happen again.

"I hope he got what he needed at that point. At this point, sympathy is all you can offer people like that," Swain said.

If you recognize the thief, you are encouraged to call Milwaukee police.

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