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Thursday, January 14, 2016

Help Top of the Hill catch a boozy bandit

Posted by on Thu, Jan 14, 2016 at 3:45 PM

click to enlarge Topo's tap thief - PHOTO COURTESY OF TOP OF THE HILL
  • Photo courtesy of Top of the Hill
  • Topo's tap thief
Identify that (presumable) fratty bro, win free beer!

Yes, another Triangle culinary caper occurred this weekend, this time at a downtown Chapel Hill staple, while Ashley Christensen's cooker remains on the loose. Just before closing time on Saturday night, a young man in a striped collared shirt yanked three taps from behind the bar of The Great Room, the event space owned by brewery and restaurant Top of the Hill, resulting in damages to the bar and neighboring property.

Top of the Hill is one of the state’s first microbreweries, serving “craft beer and justice,” according to its Facebook post about the incident, since 1996. The man was a patron of the bar Saturday evening; he found his way into the empty event space through an unlocked door and proceeded to unscrew a tap handle from behind the bar and tuck it into his jacket.

That wasn’t enough: Emboldened by his first success, the man returned a few minutes later for two more handles. In his overzealousness, he pulled open the tap, unleashing a flood of oat soda onto the floor below.

Top of the Hill’s general manager, Guy Murphy, says the man is responsible for the loss of 52 gallons, or about 500 pints, of sweet, sweet Honey Brown Ale. That’s $2,500 worth of suds, while the custom handles cost $80 apiece. The bill from the downstairs Walgreens, which is downstream from the bar, hasn’t arrived yet.

“The way we actually found out is that Walgreens called to say there was beer leaking through their ceiling,” says Murphy. “There was beer all along their aisles, on the floor.”

click to enlarge Top of the Hill says this young woman may have had a hand in the theft. - PHOTO COURTESY OF TOP OF THE HILL
  • Photo courtesy of Top of the Hill
  • Top of the Hill says this young woman may have had a hand in the theft.
What the brew-tap burglar didn’t know is that Top of the Hill has 36 security cameras throughout its property, which captured his late-night misadventure. On Wednesday, Top of the Hill posted surveillance footage of the incident on its social media accounts.

“With the cameras and with social media, we’re hoping someone will recognize him,” Murphy says. “We hope to recoup our money, but it’s also about the principle. Taking other people’s property hurts a lot of people. We’ve got 130 people on staff, and this directly affects them."

The restaurant posted another update earlier this afternoon, citing that a young woman was a new "person of interest" in the case.

While rewards for Ashley Christensen’s missing pig cooker—including $1,000 to Dashi Ramen and a year’s worth of pork belly soup at Bida Manda—continue to pile up, Top of the Hill is offering a $200 gift certificate, plus a keg of your choice, for information leading to the identification of the thieving tippler. If you have any information, you can contact the Chapel Hill Police Department directly and reference case file #16-00484. 

As for the social shaming?

“I hope this can be a lesson about the appropriate way to act as an adult,” Murphy says. “Sometimes, people need reminders.”

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