By Marielle Mohs

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A top Twin Cities chef says someone broke into his car and took items that are worth more to him than any resale value.

It happened early Saturday morning as staff at Handsome Hog in St. Paul’s Cathedral Hill neighborhood were closing for the night. Justin Sutherland is the head chef and owner.

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“There was just a little kind of towel laying over the three bags, but, you know, nothing of value obviously visible, but obviously they wanted to find out, and they were right,” Sutherland said.

He had just wrapped up the opening night of a new restaurant concept called Pearl and the Thief in downtown St. Paul on Friday night.

He came back to his other restaurant, Handsome Hog, and parked his car in the back lot behind the restaurant to help finish closing up. During that time, at about 2 a.m. Saturday, his back car window was smashed in.

Chef Justin Sutherland (credit: CBS)

“In your own city, at your own restaurant, when people are in the building, it’s a little violating and very brazen,” Sutherland said.

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His laptop was stolen, as well as all the server tips from the pop-up’s opening night, as well as his chef’s roll of knives — which were a family heirloom.

“Some of those knives, I mean, you know, my grandfather passed away, you know, a few years ago, he left me all his knives, and my grandma from Japan gave me all her knives from Japan, so just, you know, a lot of irreplaceable, sentimental value,” Sutherland said.

Handsome Hog shares a parking lot with an apartment complex and market. While WCCO was interviewing Sutherland, he got word one of those neighbors may have caught the crime on a surveillance camera.

Until then, he plans to pay his servers their tips out of pocket, which totaled about $1,000. At the very least, he’s hoping whoever stole his stuff will have the heart to return what can’t be replaced.

“You can drop the knife roll off at Handsome Hog, or leave it on a street corner, no questions asked,” he said. “All I really care about is getting those knives back.”

Sutherland filed a report with St. Paul police, who are investigating.

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Marielle Mohs