June 8, 2022 By Alexandra Adelina Nita
Employees at a Sunnyside café discovered late last month that a small wooden figurine that usually sits under tree in front of their workplace was missing.
The theft was discovered by employees of Full Moon Café, located at 42-14 Greenpoint Ave., who noticed the store’s figurine—a wooden man affectionally known as Mr. Moon—was gone shortly after they arrived at work on May 28.
Employees Gabriel Ibarlucea and Eliceo Suarez had opened the café for the day and noticed that it was missing when they swept the sidewalk out front. The statue had been part of the café since the owner, Angelica Villalba, opened the coffee shop a year ago.
The employees along with Villalba checked the café’s cameras to see who may have taken it and discovered that a man took it at around 5:30 a.m. that day. They consulted neighboring store owners who reviewed their footage that showed the suspect wheel Mr. Moon off in a shopping cart.
Despite the video footage, they were unable to identify the suspect since the camera angles were not clear and the man was wearing a surgical mask. His most identifiable characteristic was the yellow vest he wore with the word Navillus on its back.
Nevertheless, they did their best with what they had to track him down.
“Eliceo went above and beyond and took it upon himself to go look for him,” Villalba said. He had a picture of the man, she said, and asked people on the block if they recognized him.
The Full Moon Cafe also went on Facebook the day of the theft and released the footage and asked local residents for help in locating the culprit as well as the figurine. They received a tip later that day that the suspect was a local.
The very next day the thief appeared at the café just prior to closing. He had the statue with him and decided to return it, having heard they were looking for him.
Villalba said that they were happy to get it back and decided not to disclose who took it.
“We are just happy and thankful that he did the right thing at the end of the day,” Villalba said.
Suarez was similarly grateful and emphasized the role of the Sunnyside community in both the return of the statue and the success of Full Moon Cafe.
“We’re happy being here, we’re growing day by day,” he said. “We want to be here for the community.”