Merchants seek change in San Francisco tip-jar thefts 

click to enlarge Cash and carry: Surveillance footage shows a man identified as Odis Jack Gillard taking money from the tip jar of Cafe du Soleil in the Lower Haight. - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy photo
  • Cash and carry: Surveillance footage shows a man identified as Odis Jack Gillard taking money from the tip jar of Cafe du Soleil in the Lower Haight.

San Francisco merchants hailed the arrest a year ago of a notoriously greedy goon with a distinctive limp who shuffled from shop to shop swiping cash from tip jars.

Now merchants are looking for tips on how to make the alleged thief, 64-year-old Odis Jack Gillard, permanently go away.

Despite countless arrests — one police official last year counted 79 felonies and 78 misdemeanors since 1990 — merchants in the Lower Haight say Gillard won’t stop plunging his grubby mitts into their tip jars.

On Saturday, the blog Haighteration reported that Gillard assaulted an employee at Cafe du Soleil after stealing tips.

The employee, who requested to remain anonymous, told The San Francisco Examiner on Thursday that Gillard stole from a tip jar she had purchased specifically to make it harder for that to happen.

He came in about 8:50 p.m., she said. After telling him to hand over all the cash, he replied, “I’ll give you a dollar.” Then he shoved her out of the way, she said, leaving her injured. While she called police, two good Samaritans stalled him.

“He then went outside and picked up one of our chairs like he was going to throw it at the door,” she said. “He stopped and put it down, then threw the bananas he had in his hand at the door.”

The thefts have been going on for years, merchants say.

Gillard also allegedly hit Greenburger’s on Haight Street last weekend. Last year, employees at Cafe Divis at 359 Divisadero St. claimed he stole from them five times in two months. At the time, workers at nearby Bean Bag Café said they hid their tip jars when they saw him coming.

Police “told me he had a criminal record since his 20s,” the Cafe du Soleil employee said. “That is how long he has been making a living stealing from minimum-wage employees.”

The employee asked cops to send Gillard to a psychiatric center instead of jail.

“They said he most likely would be released in a few days, either way,” she said.

She is now trying to obtain restraining and stay-away orders against Gillard. The employee said she wants neighborhood shops to unite and lobby for a stay-away order covering the Lower Haight neighborhood.

maldax@sfexaminer.com

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