Coffee store burglary report erroneous

? Theft of 364 bags of coffee from Hayes Coffee never happened, say police, both owners.

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By Bill Dwyer

The reported Dec. 30 theft of 350 pounds of coffee from an Oak Park coffee retailer has proven to be in error, police said Monday. Versions of that report, numbered 04-49353, stating that someone had stolen 350 bags of coffee with an estimated value of $6,300 from the store sometime overnight on Dec. 29-30, were published in the Jan. 5 editions of WEDNESDAY JOURNAL.

New owner Sami Daher, reported the alleged theft Thursday, Dec. 30. Daher said that he had filed the burglary report based on what his 16 year old son had told him. Daher said Saturday that his son told him he found three shelves in the store empty when he opened the business Thursday morning, Dec 30.

What likely happened reflects a misunderstanding stemming from a difference in how the old owner and new owner stock shelves and keep track of sales.

"It never happened," said former owner/operator Bud Hayes last Saturday. Hayes, who owned the business for 18 years, said he sold the business to Daher in June of 2004. Hayes, who said he retains a 20 percent stake in the operation and continues to work there on Fridays and Saturdays, said there were approximately 240 one pound bags of coffee on the store's shelves when he was last in the store prior to the burglary, on Friday, Dec 24.

Hayes said that Daher and his family routinely "face" bags of coffee toward the front of each shelf, which gives an appearance of shelves being fuller than they actually are. Hayes said that he often rearranges the bags to more accurately show how many bags actually remain on each shelf.

"Evidently someone did some facing," said Hayes, who added "I want it to look like what I've actually got (in stock)."

Daher said that Hayes told him that there was nothing missing from the store, and accepts the idea that it was all a misunderstanding. But he said he remains suspicious, not of Hayes, of whom he said "I really trust him," but of the possibility that one of many old keys still in circulation may have been used. He has since had one of the locks on the front door changed, and is keeping closer track of what's on hand.

"Now we do inventory every day to see what we've sold," said Daher.

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