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Man accused of swiping harpist’s donation jar during performance outside Idyllwild Library arrested

By in Press Enterprise on September 29, 2017

By Beatriz E. Valenzuela Michael Darreng McCrae Kellner, 23, of Idyllwild was arrested after Riverside County Sheriff’s officials say he stole a harpist’s donation jar during a performance.

Deputies arrested a 23-year-old Idyllwild man on suspicion of swiping a local harpist’s tip jar during a performance outside the Idyllwild Library, Riverside County sheriff’s officials said.

“It was a shock,” said jazz harpist Christian Chalifour on Friday morning. “Having survived 40 years of busting on the streets all over the world and to have this happen in our own little backyard of Idyllwild, it was shocking.”

Investigators say Michael Darreng McCrae Kellner stole the donation jar on the evening of Sept. 15 as the musician was playing his harp outside the library, according to a news release.

Chalifour recalls seeing Kellner about 45 minutes before the actual theft and noted the 23-year-old was acting strangely.

The musician chalked it up to the man possibly being under the influence of drugs or maybe unstable but kept playing.

“But then this blur comes in from the left, grabs the jar and runs into an open door or a minivan,” he said.

Stunned, Chalifour said it took him some time to process what had just happened and to call sheriff’s officials. Chalifour said there was about $40 in the jar, which he admits isn’t much, but said it was the principle that prompted him to report the theft.

“I’ve done this on the streets of Tokyo, London, Vienna and San Francisco,” said Chalifour who originally hails from Anchorage, Alaska. “You don’t screw around with a street performer’s tips. It’s an unwritten rule.”

Hemet station detectives tracked Kellner to a vacant home in the 53000 block of Country Club Drive on Wednesday night, officials said.

Kellner was arrested on suspicion of theft, narcotic use, and violating his probation. He was booked into the Cois […]    

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