By John Ramos

WALNUT CREEK (KPIX 5) — An armed robber with an unusual weapon and a sweet tooth is on the run after clearing out the cash register at a Walnut Creek tanning salon, with the salon’s owner on his tail.

It was just past 7:30 p.m. Tuesday when a man entered the Glo Tanning Studio in Walnut Creek, displayed a box-cutter razor knife, and threatened the young woman working the desk.

“[He] ordered the girl to give him all the money in the register,” said owner Steve Tanabe. “She did so, she gave him all the bills, which amounted to just a little over a hundred dollars.”

But apparently that wasn’t enough because he then demanded that she also give him every bit of loose change in the register. The topper: as he turned to leave he helped himself to a few pieces of candy from a bowl on the desk.

“Well, I got the feeling that this guy, from the way he looked was probably a drug addict or possibly homeless,” said Tanabe.

Now a lot of people might report the incident to police and move on. But it turns out the owner of Glo Tanning IS the police, or at least a retired Contra Costa Sheriff’s deputy. Steve Tanabe has decided this is a matter of principle.

“I mean, if it was a dollar, it’s still the fact that somebody’s coming in and threatening an employee, especially a young girl.”

So Tanabe began canvassing the neighborhood with the suspect’s picture. A clerk at the nearby 7-Eleven recognized the man and two employees at the Subway sandwich shop next door believe he is the one who robbed them sometime last year.

People at this gym said he sometimes works out and uses the showers there. Tanabe spent five hours yesterday staking out the nearby Iron Horse walking trail. So far, nothing. But he says even though this may not be the crime of the century, ” I still wouldn’t mind a little justice, yeah.”

It’s a good lesson to keep in mind. Fool around with the wrong tanning salon and you might just get burned.

Anyone who recognizes the man in the surveillance video is urged to contact the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office.

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