Stiffing a bartender on New Year's Eve could cost two men whom police accused of lighting a Christmas tree on fire before dawn on New Year's Day that damaged the iconic Southernmost Point buoy in Key West, Florida.
The torching the holiday tree was recorded by surveillance cameras, police said. Burn marks measuring several feet high and wide defaced the 12-foot monument, which marks the southernmost tip of the continental U.S., 90 miles from Cuba, police said. Damage was more than $5,000, police said.
When video of the alleged crimes made the rounds, bartender Cameron Briody recognized one of the men, who he said had failed to tip him during a busy New Year's Eve shift at Irish Kevin's on the city's famous Duval Street.
"I knew immediately that I had served him and that he had used a card, so his name would be on the slips," Briody told The Miami Herald.
Briody could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.
Alyson Crean, a spokesperson for Key West police, confirmed Wednesday that Briody's information helped police identify two suspects.
Irish Kevin's general manager, Daylin Starks, told The Herald that the bar has several cameras. Briody's frugal customer and his companion were connected to the bar through credit card receipts and timestamped videos, Starks said.
"We could follow them the whole time, in and out of the bar," he said.
The information was shared with police, Irish Kevin's said in a Facebook post, which gave Briody a "huge shout out!"
"After a long night shift on one of the busiest nights of the year, when Cameron awoke to the news he immediately called work and alerted management that he was certain he had waited on these guys," the post said.
"After combing through footage we were able to provide Key West PD with pictures of the men along with their names. We are extremely proud of Cameron, The Key West Police Department, and anyone else who took part in naming these suspects," it said. "We are also glad that those responsible for vandalizing a city landmark so near and dear to so many will have to take responsibility for their actions."
Police identified the suspects as David B. Perkins Jr., 21, of Leesburg, Florida, and Skylar Rae Jacobson, 21, of Henrietta, Texas. Both face charges of criminal mischief with damage over $1,000.
They had made arrangements to turn themselves in, police said in a statement.
Perkins and Jacobson were recorded on multiple cameras at about 3:30 a.m. Jan. 1 setting the Christmas tree ablaze, police said.
Some of the video, which "quickly spread on social media, shows one man dragging the tree to the location," police said.
"They hid when a car drove by, then took several pictures on their phones of each other in front of the tree and buoy," police said. "Then, while one man checked the surroundings, the other lit the tree, and a fire raged. One man took one last photo of the blazing tree before the two ran out of camera range. Using several police resources, the men were quickly identified."
Perkins and Jacobson could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.