Brazen thief steals van with valuable cargo from Chicago restaurant

Surveillance video shows a brazen thief stealing a van from a popular Indian restaurant in Streeterville, and he probably has no idea about the van's valuable cargo.

Now, the restaurant’s owner is pleading for help.

Anu Sharma owns the popular Indian Garden restaurant in Streeterville, which caters scores of Indian weddings and cultural events.

On Sunday, a man seen on surveillance video in a Patriot's hat came upon the van parked in the alley next to the restaurant. It was left unlocked with the keys inside while the head chef ran into the restaurant to grab some more supplies.

And within minutes, the van was gone.

The owner is now offering a $1,000 reward, not for the van that was stolen, but for what was inside: four highly crafted food carts, serving trays and platters, ornamental candlesticks, and other customized tableware all made of copper and stainless steel, and all from India.

"It takes me to go to the factories, custom design them, go to India, get them shipped here. They take two months to manufacture, get here. It's a big thing,” Sharma said.

Sharma says the pieces are worth tens of thousands of dollars and are a key part of the traditional Indian feasts she caters.

Now, she worries the van thief will simply sell them for scrap.

"You can take the van. Return my equipment. That's all I request,” Sharma said. "I don't care about the van. I can get another van the next morning. But I cannot get the equipment. I placed an order yesterday, it's gonna take me four months to get it. And I have weddings booked until next year!"

She says she won't prosecute the guy who stole it and will even give anyone the $1000 to return it -- no questions asked.