Is a Starbucks Tip Jar Worth Dying For?

Tale of the tip jar
Tale of the tip jar
OC Weekly archives

A Huntington Beach Starbucks tip jar thief picked the wrong time to ride up on his bicycle and pull his evil deed, which led to a tug-of-war with an armed and retired cop. Their struggle over three dollar bills and some change Saturday night resulted in 55-year-old Scott Fahey getting conked in the head with a 40-pound metal sign, 26-year-old Francisco Cardenas getting booked on theft and assault with a deadly weapon charges and followers of the incident getting their virtual panties in a bunch on social media.

Fahey, who retired after a 30-year law enforcement career in Los Angeles County that included stints as a narcotics, burglary and gang detective, was walking his two Belgian Malinois dogs around 8 p.m. Saturday when he made his regular stop to the walk-up counter at the Starbucks at Brookhurst Street and Adams Avenue. (A venti hot chocolate for him and water for Mali and Nemo.)

As Fahey put a tip in the tip jar, a man on a bicycle rode up and grabbed the container, but the ex-cop refused to let go. That led to a punch fest punctuated by Fahey being bashed in the head with the metal sign.

Fahey responded by reaching for the holster holding his Glock 26 and warning the thief he would be shot if he did not stop. The baddie jumped back on his bike and rode off, and baristas called 9-1-1.

Huntington Beach cops nabbed a suspect about a mile and a half up Brookhurst at Ellis Avenue in Fountain Valley and brought Fahey and some Starbucks employees there to identify him. The victim and each witness separately fingered Francisco Cardenas of Santa Ana as the bicycle thief, according to police, who add he "was found in possession of the stolen property."

Cardenas won a trip to Huntington Beach jail and Fahey earned a trip to the hospital, where he was treated for his head injury overnight.

Held in lieu of $25,000 bail, Cardenas has a court date scheduled for Tuesday in Westminster.

News of the incident sparked a debate on the Huntington Beach Police Department Facebook page, as the Orange County Register reports.

Some understood Fahey's contention that he could not simply let go of the tip jar after his old cop instincts kicked in. "Some people are wired differently," observed Justin Dufresne. "I couldn't live with myself if I just stood by and allowed that to happen."

But others disagreed, including Kristin Ontiveros: "Your safety isn't worth $20 in tips. Let him go."

As the Register reports, one of Fahey's four sons felt the same way--and the retired cop's advice to anyone else who finds themselves in a similar situation is, "Let him have it. It's at most five bucks."

Email: mcoker@ocweekly.com. Twitter: @MatthewTCoker. Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!


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