Union City police officers reached for their own wallets after a teenager, whose picture was released Friday, allegedly robbed a 12-year-old's Girl Scout cookie stand at gunpoint.
The theft occurred Wednesday outside a Safeway store at 1790 Decato Road where a mother and her daughter were selling cookies at a booth, according to police.
"This is very, very scary. I never thought this would actually happen to me," said Rosa Bennett, the child's mother.
The suspect first approached the pair and asked about buying cookies, but returned soon thereafter — angry. He jumped behind the table, holding a gun, said Bennett, who froze. Her daughter had just stepped away to the car to replenish her cookies.
He stole an unknown amount of money from the mother and fled, police said.
The girl, whose identity was not disclosed at the request of her mother, said she knew something was terribly wrong as soon she got back to the stand.
"I felt so bad for my mom. I just started crying and crying," she said.
The teenager, who remains at large as of Friday, is believed to be between 16 and 19 years old and about 5 feet 4 inches to 5 feet 6 inches tall. He was described as having a thin build and clad in dark clothing, including a hooded sweatshirt.
Police say many officers involved in the investigation have children involved in scouting. So they donated to cover the cost of the robbery. In two hours, they had raised almost $600.
Then the Union City Police Officers Association purchased all of the girl's remaining boxes of cookies. In all, the officers and the union donated more than $1,100 to the girl.
On Thursday, the girl's mother dropped off the cookies to the police department.
Sgt. Steve Mendez says officers are glad neither the girl nor her mother was injured in the robbery. He says he's glad officers were able to donate and turn the robbery into a happy story.
But for Bennett, the robbery was a frightening lesson.
"We’re probably going to be way more cautious next time," she admitted. "You never know what’s going to happen."
People with information are asked to call Investigations at (510) 675-5275 or contact Detective Dejong at (510) 675-5227. Tip information may be left anonymously at (510) 675-5207 or at firstname.lastname@example.org