San Diego police would like to have a word with a man and a woman they believe stole a restaurant owner’s purse while she made their dinner.
“I’m mad," Mona Aquino said with a sigh. "I’m disappointed."
Aquino, the owner of Pauly’s Pizza Joint in the Miramar community of San Diego, told NBC 7 that she’s mad someone swiped her purse and disappointed she let her purse be swiped.
A San Diego police investigator told NBC 7 they want the public’s help identifying the suspects, a man and woman caught on video by the restaurant’s security camera. The video shows the man standing on the left side of the counter inside Pauly’s Pizza Joint on Jan. 20. The woman is on the far right near a makeshift desk Aquino built to work at during the pandemic.
Aquino said the video shows her putting her purse on the desk earlier in the afternoon. The woman shown in the video is the only one who approached the desk throughout the day. Aquino said she was too short to see her from behind the counter.
Aquino said the video shows the woman approach the desk, swivel around to get her own larger bag, then returning to the desk. The video eventually shows the woman leaving Pauly’s Pizza Joint with the man.
Aquino said she didn’t realize the purse was gone until the following morning when her banks started calling.
“I feel violated," Aquino said. "It’s more of your identity has been stolen."
Aquino said the purse contained all of her identification, credit cards, access to her EDD unemployment account, and even money she had set aside to donate to an orphanage in the Philippines. Aquino said someone emptied her unemployment account and charged thousands in online shopping to her credit cards.
“I couldn’t imagine this happening to anybody,” Aquino said shortly after the theft.
Aquino's interview struck a chord with the community. She said new customers have flooded her pizzeria and that a stranger even started a fundraiser in her name and gave Aquino access to the online account -- nearly $5,000 has been raised.
“Which has helped us -- helped us tremendously,” Aquino said. “I’ve been blessed to have this much support from the community.”
Aquino said her banks and credit card companies have worked with her onthe fraudulent charges, but she’s still struggling with the unemployment account.
“When you call them, you get transferred from one department to another and you don’t get a straight answer,” Aquino said.
The restaurant owner said that the fundraiser has provided her with enough money so that she can again afford to donate to the orphanage, which, she said, cares for children impacted by devastating typhoons in 2019.
“Overwhelming, overwhelming support," Aguino said about the fundraiser. "It’s amazing
However, Aquino said she wants everyone to help the San Diego police identify the people who took her purse before they do the same to someone else.
“What I went through was hell," Aquino said. "I wouldn’t want it happening to anyone.”
The San Diego police wanted to remind people to not keep all their personal identifying information and credit cards in one place, like a purse. They also suggested keeping copies of those important items in a safe place in the event of something happening like what occurred at Pauly’s Pizza Joint.
Tips can be called in anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS.