A man whose image was captured in surveillance photos is believed to be a transient who stole $10,000 from Cafe Bizou in Sherman Oaks early Monday morning, according to Detective Mike O'Conner of the Los Angeles Police Department. (See accompanying photos.)
"He's a guy who is frequently seen walking around Sherman Oaks with a backback; some people in the neighborhood must be familiar with him," O'Conner said. "If anyone sees him, please contact us immediately." O'Conner's phone number at the LAPD's Van Nuys Division is 818-374-0024.
The suspect was described as a white man with brown hair, about 35 to 45 years old, between 5-foot-8 and 5-foot-11 in height and weighing between 160 and 170 pounds. He was wearing blue jeans and a blue T-shirt and carrying a gray backpack.
The man broke into Cafe Bizou in the 14000 block of Ventura Boulevard at about 1:40 a.m. Monday, police said. The eatery's surveillance camera footage appears to show a man forcing open a cash register. About $10,000 in cash was stolen, police said.
"There was a lot of cash on hand because the weekend's receipts were still in the cash register," said Ryan Herrera, the manger of Cafe Bizou. "Making things worse, all of the servers' pooled tips were in a lock box that he broke into and robbed," he said.
"In this incident, the guy got lucky and made off with cash that the owner doesn't normally keep on hand," O'Conner said after the robbery.
Even though the restaurant was closed, there were people working in the kitchen at the time of the burglary, according to police. "We think he entered through a back door somehow," O'Conner said.
Cafe Bizou is one of the most popular restaurants in Sherman Oaks, and generally attracts large crowds on weekends, Herrera said.
O'Conner said restaurant and business owners often overlook simple precautions that could prevent burglaries from occurring. He offered the following tips for business owners:
"Ensure all windows and doors are locked at close of business. Set alarm. Leave the cash register drawer open with as little cash and currency inside as possible. Don't keep large amounts of currency inside at closing. Note and report suspicious transients. Install video cameras."