PATERSON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A thief cut his way into a Paterson deli and made off with thousands in cash.

The entire burglary was caught on camera.

Police said the thief broke into a vacant store next to the Sweet Cheese Deli on Washington Street and punched his way through the wall and then cleaned the place out.

Surveillance video shows the burglary suspect at the Sweet Cheese Deli in Paterson, N.J. (credit: Image via CBS2)

A close look shows the burglar crawling inside the store through the hole.

Store manager Angie Tavarez said she arrived to a mess at around 5 a.m. on Thursday.

“I just panicked. I called my boss and I told him what happened. I came on and saw the ruckus that was happening, the hole in the wall. I don’t know what happened after that,” Tavarez said.

Surveillance video shows exactly what happened. The burglar looks up toward the camera and calmly puts the cash in his pocket.

The thief then moves to the next till, lifting it up to release the lock and open the drawer. With more money in hand, the man walks away, and crawls back through the hole as quickly and quietly as he came in.

“My first reaction was like, what is going on?” employee Rubi Cruz said. “For him to go through that little hole, he was making it a mission to go through that.”

Surveillance video shows the burglary suspect at the Sweet Cheese Deli in Paterson, N.J. (credit: Image via CBS2)

“He took his time. I mean, he was looking to see outside if anybody passes, but we had the gates down so you can’t really see inside. It’s locked gates, it’s completely blocked,” Tavarez added.

“And that gate is supposed to be your first line of defense. You don’t think someone’s coming in through the wall,” said CBS2’s Jessica Moore.

“No, not at all,” Tavarez said.

“How much money did he get away with?” Moore asked.

“About $2,000. And for a small business like this, that’s a lot. It’s a lot. It definitely makes a dent,” Tavarez said.

She said she’s spooked but would never leave the store she calls her second home.

“Not at all. I’ll come here every day at 5 in the morning. I love this store. It’s my store,” she said.

Employees said the deli is a destination spot for hundreds of Paterson customers every day, and wonder if they’ve served the thief in the past.

“He must have been in the store before because he must have knew what he doing for him to do what he did,” Cruz said.

The deli manager plans to have the hole fixed and an upgraded security system installed in the next few days.

Police said the suspect has a long gray ponytail.

Anyone with information is asked to call police.


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