Police seek woman who stole donation jar set up for Utah dad battling cancer

Posted at 8:53 PM, Mar 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-13 23:14:00-04

SPANISH FORK, Utah -- A Spanish Fork family said a woman took off with a jar full of money meant to help their dad fight cancer. Luckily, it was all caught on camera.

The jar was set up on the counter of Jake's Brookside gas station in Springville, just one of the several fundraising ideas implemented by Brooklyn Draney for her dad, Corey.

Draney family

The Draney family. Image via

"I try to think of new ways to earn money for my family," she said.

Corey's been battling Stage IV Esophageal Cancer, and  he is fighting to stay alive for his family.

"When I was first diagnosed back in March, they gave me a timeframe of four to 11 months, and now it's almost been twelve months," he said.

To say the past year has been tough is an understatement for the family.

"My dad's my hero, and I don't want to lose him," said Brooklyn, tears streaming down her face as she talked.

Corey, 41, and his wife Allison have three children: 18-year-old Brooklyn, 14-year-old Mason and 4-year-old Easton.

While he's so far beating the odds, the bills have piled up.

Corey flies to Arizona every other week to undergo a trial treatment, after regular chemo didn't work. There's prescription medicines, doctor visits, and special food to buy on top of everyday living expenses for the family.

Brooklyn decided to set up jars at several locations between Spanish Fork and Springville, so people could throw in a little extra change or a few dollars here and there.

"It means a lot, every dollar means a lot," Allison said.

But on Friday, a jar full of that money disappeared from Jake's Brookside.

"Our cashier was ringing this lady up, and she bagged up her stuff and the lady left," said Justin Jacobson, owner of Jake's Brookside.

Surveillance video posted to the store's Facebook page shows a woman paying for items. She appears to set a bag down in front of the jar, then picks both up as she walks away.

"Just why? How could you steal from people that are needing the money that bad, and are in a really bad spot?" Jacobson asked in disbelief. "It disgusts you a little bit."

Jacobson called police, and the Draney family.

"It wasn't... just a candy bar: this feeds our family," Allison explained. "This pays for his hotel stays when he goes to Arizona, his prescriptions."

"I don't see how someone could do that, it just me sick," Brooklyn said, crying.

On top of that, the day the jar was stolen, Corey was in the hospital.

"I got really sad because I just feel like my family can't catch a break," Brooklyn said.

While the family wants the money and the jar back, they also hope the person responsible is held accountable.

"Hopefully they prosecute her and she learns her lesson," Corey said, adding, "Hopefully she never has something like this happen to her."

There is already a new replacement jar on the counter in Jake's Brookside.

Jacboson said police told him they've identified the woman in the surveillance video, and are hoping to track her down.

Aside from the jars, the family has a GoFundMe account set up, as well as an account at Well's Fargo-- just ask to donate to Corey Draney.