Police searching for thief who stole over $5,000 from Manhattan restaurants

UPPER WEST SIDE, Manhattan (WABC) -- Police are looking for an early morning Grinch who broke into three restaurants on the same block on Manhattan's Upper West Side.

The thief got away with thousands of dollars.

Restaurants across the city were just getting going on Christmas Eve, one of the busiest nights of the year.

But at Bistro Cassis, they had lost $3,000 before the first guest walked in.

"You just feel violated. It's not a good feeling," said the restaurant's general manager Manny Colon.

He arrived Tuesday morning to find police dusting his office for prints after someone took a crowbar to the back door and ransacked the place.

They broke open the safe and cleaned out the cash drawer, stealing from Monday night's earnings.

Whoever did it was pretty busy. "They hit three places at once, so it's kinda like worrisome," said Colon.

Cassis was just one of three restaurants targeted on Columbus Avenue between 70th and 71st Street.

They all share a common back alley which fell victim to the same thief, who broke through their back doors overnight and grabbed all the cash he could find.

The total haul was more than $5,000, money they'll probably never get back.

"You have to watch every nickel and dime. It's a very tough business," said Colon. "It's just, it's a loss. A loss is a loss. And it sets everything back."

Police in the 20th Precinct are looking at these cases as part of a pattern, although it isn't clear if they think it's related to any other cases in the neighborhood, or perhaps elsewhere in the city.

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