Clawson Police are seeking a man who stole cash from three local restaurants on Sunday after apparently tricking cashiers into several transactions.
Police believe the same man committed the scams between 4 p.m. and a little after 5 p.m. Sunday at , and Burger King in Clawson.
The first incident occurred at 4:11 p.m. at Wendy's on North Main Street when a man walked in and ordered a small frosty and paid with a $20 bill, police said. The man then told the cashier he meant to hand her a $1 bill and wanted the $20 bill back. A few other money transactions occurred before the man left the restaurant.
The manager at Wendy's said the register was $68 short after the incident. Police reviewed video surveillance and described the suspect as 6 feet, 220 pounds, dark short hair, wearing glasses and a leather jacket. The video shows three transactions ocurring with this man and the cashier.
An employee at National Coney Island on West Maple said a man walked in the restaurant around 4:58 p.m. and ordered a cup of coffee. He handed the cashier a $50 bill and moments later stated that he wanted it back and gave her a $1 bill. He then asked for change for a $100 bill in five $20 bills. Police say these cash transactions continued until the cashier became more and more confused. Witnesses say the man left the restaurant headed east on Maple Road. The manager at National Coney Island said the register was $111 short after the incident.
At 5:08 p.m. Sunday, a man entered Burger King on 14 Mile Road and ordered a small coffee, according to police reports. He paid with a $50 bill and when the cashier handed the man $49 in change, he told the cashier he thought he paid with a $5 bill and wanted the $50 bill back. The man left after retrieving the $50 bill back but never returned the $49 in change. Customers at Burger King say the man left in a car with another man behind the wheel.
Police said the man involved in the Burger King and National Coney Island incidents matched the description of the man on surveillance at Wendy's. The cashiers who were scammed also said the man had a speech impairment.
Police Chief Harry Anderson said such scams are rare in Clawson, but when they occur there is usually one person or group of people who commit the crime and then leave town. He described this type of scam as a mind game. "They keep exchanging money until the point where the clerk is confused," he said.
"It's been several years," since it happened in Clawson, Anderson said. "They take advantage of people and move on."
There were also reports of a scam artist hitting businesses in Troy recently, Anderson said.
Anderson said police urge area businesses to be alert of the suspicious way these transactions took place.
Anyone with information about the incidents is asked to call Clawson Police at 248-435-5000.
Correction: The reference to "gypsy" as a descriptor of the kind of scam that occurred was removed from the story. Such depictions perpetuate negative stereotypes, and the usage was an oversight.