published: Friday, March 08, 2013
Cops to pitch in, help Scouts
roxanne brown | Staff Writer
Clermont police will be trading their badges for buckets on March 16 to wash cars and raise money for a Girl Scout troop that had its cookie-table cash box stolen by a thief.
The event is from 9 a.m. to noon at the Auto Zone store at 200 West Highway 50 in Clermont.
"We are encouraging everyone to come out and get their cars and or motorcycles washed, and help raise monies for this troop," Captain Jon Johnson said. "We just wanted to help out. We'd knew that there would be a big community response, so we wanted to do our part, too."
Lynette Baker was helping to oversee Troop 4702's cookie sale outside of the Blockbuster Video store on Citrus Tower Boulevard on Feb. 23, when a black male approached the table as the girls were packing up. Baker told police she thought the man was a last-second customer.
"Instead, as he got to the table, he grabbed the black in color cash box off the table and ran towards Grand Highway," police Lt. Michael McMaster said at the time.
Katie Mendoza, a Girl Scout service unit co-manager, said the girls were "very shaken" because the thief came close to them to steal the box and actually brushed up against one of Scouts.
On Tuesday, Johnson said investigators believe the thief -- who netted approximately $285 -- was working with an accomplice because he was seen jumping into the passenger side of a waiting P.T. Cruiser.
"We are surprised that no one has given us any leads or turned him in by now, with all this attention," Johnson said.
The Scouts went right back to work the next day and have received an outpouring of support from the community, Mendoza said. People stopped by their cookie table with words of encouragement, cards, hugs and donations -- some even wanting nothing in return.
People also have contacted police to ask how they can help the troop.
"We've received so many calls and I guarantee that on Saturday (March 16), people will come by with donations and not even want their cars washed. That's the type of community this is," Johnson said.
Those wishing to help can forward all donations to: Girl Scouts of Citrus Council -- Troop 4702, 341 North Mills Avenue, Orlando, FL 32803.
Anyone with any information about the theft is asked to call police at 352-394-5588, or Crimeline at 1-800-423-TIPS.