Employees: Funds for fallen Westerville officers stolen from donation jar

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A woman allegedly removed cash from a donation jar meant for fallen Westerville Police Officers, then used it at lottery machines that sit nearby. (Courtesy: Briana Braver)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX/WTTE) -- Employees at Average Joe's Pub and Grill in northwest Columbus set up a donation jar to help families of fallen Westerville police officers Anthony Morelli and Eric Joering.

They said they'd collected at least a few hundred dollars by Saturday, but noticed the jar appeared empty by closing time.

Manager Briana Braver said she aimed a surveillance camera on the donation jar that sits next to the front door.

When she reviewed the images, Braver said the video appeared to show a woman allegedly removing cash, then using it at lottery machines that sit nearby.

"She looked at the box, made it look like she was reading, and made it look like she was putting money in, and then she flipped it over to see if she could get inside the box and couldn't and then goes away, and come back with something to pull the money out, probably tweezers" said manager Briana Braver.

Braver said the woman had been in the West Henderson Road location more than once Saturday.

"She was in earlier in the day, had a couple of beers, and then came back. So, she thought about it," Braver added.

Braver said as a Westerville native,the loss of the officers hit her personally.She had officer Morelli as a school resource officer years ago.

"I remember him being a really great human being, always so sweet," she added.

Columbus police said the investigative unit is looking into the case and reviewing the surveillance images.

If you have any information, you're urged to contact the Columbus Division of Police at 614-645-4545.