Cake bandit on the loose, but business owner wants to help man allegedly stealing from him

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - A Southwest Bakersfield business says a man has been stealing cakes from their counters, but the business owner isn't looking to get the man arrested.

"We're trying to get him help," said Joe Coughlin, owner of Coconut Joe's off California Avenue. Surveillance video shows a man, who Coughlin believes is homeless, taking cakes from the front counter and walking out without paying multiple times.

"It's kinda become a joke almost, we're glad our cake is so good that people want to steal it," Coughlin said. He also said he's talked to the man in the video multiple times, saying he believes he's homeless and has tried to offer help, but so far the man hasn't complied.

Coughlin has owned the restaurant for nearly three decades and says homelessness in the area has gotten worse over the years, but believes it's up to the community to do more to help.

"I think that, culturally, we're taught to blame the victim, and I think we need to look at the systemic problems that cause this," Coughlin said.

He's hoping people see this story and start to take action to help those less fortunate. He pointed to places around town, such as First Congregational Church, which offer services to help the homeless.

The church hosts a food bank in their office Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. where people can get food that is donated by the Community Action Partnership of Kern (CAPK). They also have a "blessing box," where people can drop off food they'd like to donate, and people in need can retrieve it with no strings attached.

"We are trying to do our best to alleviate the sense of alienation and loss of so many people in our community," said Pastor David Stabenfeldt.

Coughlin is hoping the man allegedly stealing from his restaurant gets the help he needs, but until then, he says getting the man arrested won't help.

"If he comes in for cakes, let him eat cake!"

 

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