The woman caught on video stealing a five-foot-tall stuffed giraffe from a Langford restaurant’s toy drive has come forward.
On Sunday morning, a customer left Mr. Mike’s Steakhouse Restaurant with a stuffed animal meant to be a Christmas gift for children in Victoria General Hospital’s pediatric ward.
The restaurant’s owner and operator Claire Mackie caught the suspect on security camera and shared it to Mr. Mike’s Facebook page Monday morning. The video shows a group of five leaving just before 12:30 a.m. on Sunday.
The last person out the door appears to grab the giraffe and quickly run out of the restaurant.
“It’s heartbreaking,” Mackie said. “We’re trying to put smiles on kids’ faces. There are people out there who try to make the holidays better and then there are those who try to ruin it.”
Assistant General Manager Arun Stiles said the woman has since called the restaurant and admitted to staff that she was the one who took the toy.
“She gave us a call and let us know that she was aware of everything going on on social media,” Stiles said. “She apologized for taking the giraffe.”
Stiles said she offered to bring the giraffe back, but he informed her that the restaurant can no longer accept it.
Mackie told Black Press Media that “since the item was taken out of our doors, we don’t know if the toy was exposed to chemicals, substances, or smoke. It could potentially harm the kids at the hospital who already have low immune systems.”
The woman has offered to donate new toys equaling the $80 to $100 value of the stuffed giraffe she took.
This is the third year Mr. Mike’s has held a ‘stuffie’ drive. Every year, they try to donate 100 stuffies for children who are stuck at the hospital over the holidays.
Stiles said even though the thievery was hurtful, the restaurant wants to bring the focus back to the children in need of Christmas joy.
“We’re not out to get her,” Stiles said. “I’m happy she’s going to be bringing it back and making a donation because it’s all about bringing in the donations for the kids.”
Mr. Mike’s is accepting donations for their stuffie drive until Sunday, Dec. 15. Customers who come in on that day can exchange their donation of a new stuffed animal or toy for a free appetizer.
With files from Nina Grossman.