Walk into Ridgway's Restaurant & Lounge this week, and you'll notice a new addition to the counter display. Amid the holiday decorations on the front counter is a small TV set. Taped to the top is a handwritten note: "I robbed Ridgway's," it says.
A black-and-white surveillance video plays in a loop on the screen. It's Tuesday about 12:30 a.m. Three young women enter the restaurant at 2401 E. Orangeburg Ave., then try to walk into the bar. They are turned back, the manager said, because they didn't look old enough to be there. They sit at the counter, then at a table, drinking water. In the next shot, they have made their way to the cash register.
Their ages are unclear; they didn't look old enough to be out past curfew, said Ridgway's manager, Anne Stone. But they told restaurant workers they were 18.
One of the female customers runs her fingers over the touch screen above the till, but the drawer doesn't open. A waitress comes into the frame and makes change for the customer, then leaves. The three young women leave, after noticing how the cash drawer was opened, Stone said.
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The one who had gotten change comes inside. She returns to the till, pushes a lever and the drawer pops open. She grabs cash -- $10s and $20s, Stone said -- and some credit card receipts.
A witness outside Ridgway's told Stone he saw the young women get into a car. He thought, for some reason, they had skipped out on their check. The man got the car's license plate. When police followed up, the car owner said the females had begged for a ride; the driver dropped them off at a nearby Walgreens.
Walgreens workers confirmed the three had come in, Stone said, and employees turned over a security tape to police.
Modesto police have not identified the suspects, but they are wanted in connection with the theft, said Modesto police Sgt. Craig Gundlach. Modesto police ask anyone who has information about this theft to call CrimeStoppers at 521-4636. Callers to CrimeStoppers can remain anonymous and are eligible for a cash reward.
Bee staff writer Emilie Raguso can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2235.