He didn’t tip the bartender, and that led to his arrest in burning of Key West landmark

(CNN) — A Key West bartender who on New Year’s Day saw images of the men who had vandalized the Florida city’s landmark recognized one of them: It was the bar patron who had stiffed him the night before.

Police in Key West released this photo showing the damage to the Southernmost Point landmark. 

Cameron Briody’s recall of the face and his bar’s receipts helped police identify the two men suspected of defacing the famous “Southernmost Point” buoy landmark.

The brightly painted 20-ton concrete buoy marking the southernmost point in the continental United States sustained “extensive damage” when a Christmas tree was placed near it and lit on fire, according to Key West police.

Images from surveillance cameras captured two men dragging the tree to the buoy and lighting it on fire around 3 a.m. on New Year’s Day. At times, the men ducked behind the buoy as vehicles drove by, according to the police report. As the fire burned, the two took photos with their phones and then ran off.

News spread quickly in the tight-knit island community as images of the crime were shared on social media.

Scanning the news the morning after his busy New Year’s Eve shift at Irish Kevin’s Bar, Briody realized he had seen one of the men the night before. The patron stuck in his mind because he had ordered three rounds of drinks and didn’t tip for any of them.

“I knew immediately that I had served him and that he had used a card, so his name would be on the slips,” Briody told the Miami Herald.

He called his manager, Daylin Starks, who quickly found the credit card receipt for the man’s transactions. She then used its time stamp to match it to the bar’s video of the patron and his companion.

“We could follow them the whole time, in and out of the bar,” Starks told the Herald. “We could see them getting rejected from all the girls they were trying to hit on.”

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The suspects were wearing the same clothes as seen in the video from the buoy.

Police were able to use the information to identify a 22-year-old man from Florida and a 21-year-old man from Texas. They  contacted both men, who acknowledged what they did and said they had made a big mistake, according to the report. They face felony charges of criminal mischief with damages over $1,000.

Repairs to the buoy, which was installed in 1983, cost more than $5,000, according to the police report. Key West Public Works started repairing the landmark the same day and completed the restoration Thursday.

For helping identify the suspects, Briody was rewarded with a case of rum provided by Key West First Legal Rum Distillery.

“We are extremely proud of Cameron, the Key West Police Department, and anyone else who took part in naming these suspects,” said a Facebook post by Irish Kevin’s. “We are also glad that those responsible for vandalizing a city landmark so near and dear to so many will have to take …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Latest News

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