On October 18, I was accused of stealing by Empire Cake (formerly Lulu’s) on 8th Avenue between 15th and 16th Streets.
I made a $5.90 purchase and paid with a $20 and a $1 (as I recall). The cashier gave me $5.10 in change and I said I’d given her a $20. She gave me the additional $10, but looked uncertain so I offered my phone number in case her drawer was short.
Just then, two men (I believe the owners) came out and accused me of stealing $10. I said I was just offering to leave my phone number in case the drawer was short. The short one sneered, “You’d never return the money.” He said the security video “proved” I was a thief (it showed the cashier placing my bill in a slot where there were no $20s). He said I’d been rude to the cashier and called her a cheat (completely untrue – we’d been making small talk about salted chocolate, and I thought she’d made an error in change). He demanded I return the $10 or he’d call the police. The possibility of an honest mistake never crossed this man’s mind. I gave him the $10 and left.
I’ve lived in the West Village for 32 years, and I don’t go around cheating local businesses – or any business. If these cynical young men hope to stay in business, they ought not to accuse honest neighborhood residents of theft.