‘Tea Cake Bandit’ gives St. Anthony coffee shop owners a sweet idea to spread some goodwill



ST. ANTHONY, NL — There’s a thief with a sweet tooth on the loose in St. Anthony and the owners of the business they broke into last week are turning the negative experience into something positive.

The Rebel Coffee House on West Street was broken into in the early morning hours of Dec. 15.

Besides selling a selection of coffee and other beverages, baked goods and confectionary items, the coffee house doubles as a craft shop featuring items made by crafters and artists from St. Anthony and the surrounding area.

So, owner Colleen Loder was a bit surprised the thief never touched any of that craft work when they stole money from the business’s cash.

“We had some very nice things,” Loder told the SaltWire Network. “Some very nice valuable items there.”

What they did help themselves to, though, was the stock of Tunnock’s Tea Cakes, the chocolate-coated soft marshmallow treat on a biscuit base, that the café carries among its confectionery goods.

Their choice has Loder dubbing them the “Tea Cake Bandit.”

Tunnock’s Teacakes. — This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

The break-in, which is under investigation by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, was discovered by an employee who found the door broken, a few things upset in the store, some wrappers thrown around and the empty cash.

Loder said it’s not normal for them to leave money in the shop and if they do it’s only very small amounts.

“Unfortunately, it was a little bit more than we had hoped would have been there. But any amount of money to lose in a small business is too much.”

Especially going into the winter months when owners know sales will be down.

“We try to keep it open all year so we can serve the community all year, so we need all that we can get, that’s for sure,” said Loder.

Rebel Coffee House in St. Anthony was broken into on Dec. 15 and police are looking for the suspect that has been dubbed the “Tea Cake Bandit,” after they stole cash and the shop's stock of Tunnock's Tea Cakes.  –Contributed
Rebel Coffee House in St. Anthony was broken into on Dec. 15 and police are looking for the suspect that has been dubbed the “Tea Cake Bandit,” after they stole cash and the shop’s stock of Tunnock’s Tea Cakes. –Contributed

On top of the lost money Loder and her son and Rebel co-owner, Michael Loder, will have to have the damage to the building repaired.

There’s something else that’s been impacted by the break-in that may not be so easy to fix and that’s the sense of security that Loder and her employees feel has been lost.

“That’s one thing that you feel, and you felt the moment that you walked in there that you know somebody had been there. Such an invasion of your space.”

But she is not letting that takeover and said they will get through it.

“We have to see the good in it.”

“We have to see the good in it.”
—Colleen Loder

To turn it around, Rebel Coffee House is going to be giving back to the town that’s supported them for almost three years, including through the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a post on its Facebook page, Rebel is encouraging people to come in this week and purchase a coffee, and a portion of all sales will be donated to the local food bank.

“To show the ‘Tea Cake Bandit’ that good always wins,” reads the post signed by “Your Pals at Rebel.”

“We have to do that, I think, in order to get through it. I think that that’s our saving grace of getting through it,” said Loder.

The post is getting a reaction. Sales at the shop have been fantastic and they are getting messages from people from all over who want to donate.

“It’s going to help so many other people,” Loder said.

“It helps us to get through it knowing that we can help somebody else in need.”

It could also help the Tea Cake Bandit.

“If we knew that anybody needed anything, Rebel Coffee House is always there to support anything that the community would need.”

As the investigation continues, the RCMP has released surveillance video of the area around Rebel that shows a person walking across a parking lot. They are asking for the public’s help in identifying the suspect and for residents to check for any available video surveillance of the area of ​​the shop.

Anyone with knowledge of the suspect or information related to the crime can contact the St. Anthony RCMP at 709-454-3543 or, to remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), online at nlcrimestoppers. com or use the P3Tips app.

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