Sandy woman faces felony charges after theft of donation jar caught on camera

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SALT LAKE CITY -- A Sandy woman is facing felony charges after police said she stole a donation jar on the counter of a Salt Lake City restaurant.

The money in the jar was supposed to go toward building a school in Nicaragua, but, luckily, the heist was caught on tape.

Stop in at any of the four Tonyburgers locations around the area, and you’ll spot a jar on the counter with a flyer that reads:

"My name is Laura Carver. I am an employee here at Tonyburgers. I have been given the amazing opportunity to go to Central America."

Laura is raising money for a humanitarian trip to Nicaragua in July.

“We are going to help them build school houses,” she said. “The money will help pay for bricks, and wood, and paint and all that stuff.”

Little by little, Carver’s been getting toward her goal of $3,000.

"It would mean the world to me, if you would donate any extra cash or change you might have," Carver said, reading off the flyer she has taped to the jar.

Instead of donating, two women reportedly took it upon themselves to lift the loose change at the Tonyburgers in Salt Lake City in mid-March.

When they did, the surveillance camera was rolling.

“When I saw what had happened, at first I was mad,” said Laura’s father, Chris Carver. “Then I was just sort of sad and disappointed.”

Carver owns Tonyburgers with his wife. He said the girls distracted the worker by asking him to get a Band-Aid.

The surveillance video shows one of the women picking up the jar, pushing it underneath some clothing and walking away with the bundle under her arm while the other woman waits for the Band-Aid.

Chris Carver said they decided to post the surveillance video online, and someone recognized the duo as McCall and Kara Howells.

“I was kind of like, ‘Oh wow, they found them.’ Because it had been a few weeks,” Laura said.

Prosecutors charged Kara Howells with felony theft.

According to court documents, just a few days after Laura’s jar disappeared, a tip jar at a Beans and Brews downtown also went missing. Prosecutors also linked the pair to that jar heist.

Kara Howells is facing another felony theft charge in that incident as well.

While they don’t know just how much money was in the donation jar, the Carver family was glad the case got resolved, and they say Laura’s fundraising is back on track.

“I’ve always wanted to go and do humanitarian work,” she said, adding, “I’m excited that it's actually happening now.”

There’s also a GoFundMe account set up for Laura to help her reach her fundraising goal.

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