Ohio’s Nervous Dog coffee shop starts food drive for man who stole from tip jar

A coffee shop in Ohio isn't just offering forgiveness to the man who stole from a tip jar, it's offering him free food, too.

Surveillance cameras at the Nervous Dog Coffee Bar & Roaster in Stow, Ohio, caught a man pocketing cash from the baristas' tip jar.

"He stuck his hand straight into the tip jar and took out as much as he could get and walked out like nothing happened," store manager Scott Moses told WKYC.

Moses and the shop's owner decided not to press charges, assuming instead that the man was "probably in desperate times."

Instead of filing a police report, they offered compassion.

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Then they started a canned food drive at both Nervous Dog locations. If the man comes forward, the coffee shop will give him all the donated food, with no questions asked. If he doesn't come forward, the food will be donated to a local food bank.

"If anyone is able to help us find this unfortunate man, we will make the donations available to him Christmas week (the week of 12/23). We will also provide him with free brewed coffee for the remainder of this year. If he is unable to get to the shop again in order to pick up the food, we are happy to drop it off if anyone can help us locate the hungry fellow," the coffee shop posted on Facebook.

"In the holiday spirit, we decided to help this guy out," Moses said, adding that they've collected about three boxes of food so far.

Some critics on Facebook argued that the food drive is rewarding the man's bad behaviour, while others applauded the merciful response:

"I love this. Obviously there are 'bad' people in the world, people who will continue to steal and people who will take advantage of kindness. But I don't understand this country's obsession with punitive measures. It's really not acceptable to me that people immediately assume the worst of everyone. A little compassion goes a long way and let's hope that this guy feels loved because of this awesome gesture. Well done, Nervous Dog!" wrote Yvonne Choi on Facebook.

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"It definitely started a discourse. We are trying to show awareness that people are going through hard times," Moses told WKYC.

The first person to donate to the food drive? The barista who served the man on the day of the theft.