By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
The man who stole the canister could clearly see what he was doing.
It’s not the act of theft itself that frustrated John and Jane Hyder, longtime franchise owners of the 7-11 convenience store at Lockhaven Drive and River Road.
Instead, it’s what got stolen at 6:14 a.m. on April 4.
The store’s video surveillance cameras caught a short, young Hispanic adult male swiping a canister off the counter while an accomplice distracted the clerk by asking for a pizza to be prepared.
For years, the Hyders have had the canister on the counter to collect money in support of Foundation Fighting Blindness (FFB). Both John and daughter Jill have Retinitis Pigmentosa, a retinal degenerative disease more commonly referred to as tunnel vision. Jill is co-chair of the foundation’s annual fundraiser, the Oregon VisionWalk coming June 28 at Oaks Park in Portland.
“It’s not stealing from us, it’s stealing pure donations,” Jane said. “For me, it doesn’t get any lower than that.”
John said the canister, about two-thirds full at the time, is usually chained to the counter. He doesn’t know if it was already unhooked or if the suspect did that.
“We collect several hundred dollars a year,” John said of the canister. “It all goes to VisionWalk. We’ve had it more than 10 years.”
Jane said with the family history of eye issues, it was natural to get involved with FFB.
“Some people have things or causes near and dear to their hearts,” she said. “This is ours. We’re so frustrated over this.”
Jill said the theft was a heartbreak.
“We are all devastated,” she said. “It’s a tremendous loss.”
Staff at the 7-11 showed the Keizertimes the video of the incident. The male who swiped the canister appeared to have a mostly shaved head, wearing a white t-shirt and a hooded jacket. He waited until only his accomplice was in sight, took the canister and immediately left.
Jane said the accomplice returned to the store April 15 and was caught trying to leave with more stolen items.
Jeff Kuhns, deputy chief with the Keizer Police Department, noted an officer has a copy of the surveillance video.
“He will be reviewing it for possible leads,” Kuhns said. “The officer continues to investigate the incident.”
John said police indicated to him they “are familiar” with the two men and the apartment they are associated with.
John also recalled once having a canister benefitting muscular dystrophy swiped – on Christmas Day.
“I’ve been dealing with the public for 32 years as the franchise owner here,” he said. “When you think you’ve seen everything, people do something to surprise you.”
Those who want to donate to FBB can do so at 7-11, located at 5550 River Road N.