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Coffee stand tip-stealing spree leads to theft charges

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Posted: Monday, October 29, 2012 11:56 pm

FAIRBANKS — A North Pole couple is accused of going on a tip-stealing spree at local espresso huts earlier this month, with a goal of using the proceeds to buy synthetic marijuana.

Cayla Thorp, 21, and Christopher John, 25, have each been charged with two counts of fourth-degree theft for allegedly swiping the tip jars at a pair of Espresso Yourself coffee stands on Oct. 19. Each said during separate police interviews, however, that they’d done the same thing at numerous other huts throughout the day, according to charging documents.

Thorp’s plan, John told police, was to steal enough money to pay $10 to $15 for spice, a type of synthetic marijuana.

But the effort wasn’t especially lucrative — both defendants told police they collected less than $10 combined. John even told Thorp between stops that they were spending more on gas than they were collecting in stolen tips, he said.

The first theft was reported at Espresso Yourself at 3:30 p.m. on Oct. 19, and a report of a theft at the company’s second hut was reported within an hour. After driving up and placing an order, the co-defendants would reportedly wait for the barista inside to begin making coffee, then grab the tip jar and drive away.

Surveillance videos at the coffee huts identified the gray Ford Focus that Thorp was driving. One barista said she recognized Thorp because the two went to high school together. Thorp was later picked out of a photo lineup.

Thorp initially blamed the thefts on John, according to charging documents, but later admitted stealing tip jars from an unknown number of coffee stands while John was riding in the vehicle. John said they stole from a total of eight coffee stands throughout the day, police said.

Thorp and John were formally charged with misdemeanor theft on Friday.

Contact staff writer Jeff Richardson at 459-7518.

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