Latte love! Burgled cafe’s owner offers bandit mercy

Forgive and forget: Abdul Elenani posted a message of forgiveness to the thief who robbed his Third Aveunue cafe, Cocoa Grinder, on Aug. 17. (The arm sling is unrelated to the break-in).
Brooklyn Paper
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Far from bitter, he’s serving up a double shot of forgiveness.

A Bay Ridge cafe owner spent $1,000 to hang a message of absolution on his storefront after a thief broke in and made off with thousands of dollars on Aug. 17. Abdul Elenani posted the nearly 8-foot-long banner on Third Avenue coffee spot Cocoa Grinder by Aug. 20, offering clemency and beseeching the burglar to change his ways. The brew maestro did not call police, because he’s not one to hold a bitter grudge, he said.

“People tend to forget to forgive, and it becomes all about taking revenge,” said Elenani. “Rather than harming the person, I want to send them a clear message. I’d rather forgive the person and hopefully he changes.”

Elenani drafted the missive shortly after the break-in. It explains that he did not call cops and is instead encouraging the cutpurse to seek help.

“Well sir/madam, I didn’t report this, and I didn’t check the cameras to see who you are. I’d rather just not know,” Elenani’s letter states. “If the money you stole was to better you and your family’s living, then I forgive you. If it was stolen for you to go out there and ruin yourself and health, I still forgive you and ask of you to fix yourself.”

Locals are split over Elenani’s bold move.

It’s an inspirational message, one neighbor said.

“I think it’s a great example he’s setting,” said Mohammed M., a Ridgite who didn’t want to give his full name. “If I was in his shoes, I don’t know what I’d do, but it’s a good message he’s trying to send.”

But a fellow cafe owner argued that Elenani should have alerted law-enforcement officials, lest the bandit strike again.

“He shouldn’t do this, he should call the police,” said George Dokmaji, the owner of Sally’s Coffee Shop nearby. “If someone stole food to feed themselves or their family, okay forgive that, but not in this situation where someone is hurting your business.”

Elenani, who practices Islam, said his religion was a big motivator for the banner, which includes two quotes from the prophet Muhammad, he said.

“As a Muslim, that’s what I was taught — to forgive,” he said. “It’s a normal reaction. I don’t understand why some people would think otherwise.”

A drunk patron from a local bar already tore the banner down once, and Elenani plans to keep it up until it disappears, he said.

Reach reporter Caroline Spivack at or by calling (718) 260–2517. Follow her on Twitter @carolinespivack.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Alice from Park Slope says:
He's encouraging crime. He comes from a country where the rule of law means nothing, and has no concept of American ways. Of course it must be scary, where he comes from they cut off the hand of person who steals. He also has troubles with the English language, which would make it difficult for him to speak with the police.
Aug. 26, 2016, 8:27 am
John from Bay Ridge says:
Seems like a nice guy; give him a break.
Aug. 26, 2016, 9:29 am
MJ from Bay Ridge says:
so a drunk patron from a local bar was upset that he has to pay for his beer...
Aug. 26, 2016, 9:37 am
Obvious says:
He knows who did it, that's why he won't report it. Hello, arm in sling "unrelated" to this robbery, supposedly. It's organized crime. Arab mafia. The community is keeping him from the police. He's no nice guy.
Aug. 26, 2016, 9:47 am
MJ from Bay Ridge says:
but what happens if the thief used the money for drugs or prostitute?
Aug. 26, 2016, 9:59 am
P. Murray from Breezy Point says:
Thank you, Alice from Park Slope and Mr. Obvious. Your incisive brand of American exceptionalism and clear Islamophobia are the stuff of Trump campaign supporters everywhere. Congrats on proving just how ridiculously hypocritical your viewpoints actually are.

The next time you want to talk about the lawlessness of Muslim countries or the Middle East, please keep in mind that our criminal justice system is still in the process of exonerating countless individuals who were wrongfully imprisoned because of the damning false evidence against them during their original legal proceedings. To say nothing of poor souls like Kalief Browder, who promptly hung himself from his family's apartment Window after finally being released from Rikers after spending nearly three years, much of which was spent in solitary confinement, over a false charge that never saw its day in court due to the rampant ineptitude of the Bronx District Attorney's office.

The pot calling the kettle black comes to mind, here.
Aug. 26, 2016, 10 am
MJ from Bay Ridge says:
I still believe Mr. Elenani should let the police study the video tape of the burglary because there's a surge of commercial burglary along 3 Avenue and 5 Avenue in Bay Ridge. Mr. Elenani can forgive the thief in the court in front of a judge.
Aug. 26, 2016, 10:42 am
Toz from RelocatedNewYorker says:
Classy move, bigger MAN move. Forgiving fellow. Paying it forward. He will continually be blessed in his life and in business. Hopefully the perp gets his/her crap together and reforms.
Aug. 26, 2016, Noon
Gary from Fort Greene says:
Hey, P. Murray from Breezy Point: (1) I can understand that you don't like the views of the two commenters you criticized, but I don't understand why their views are hypocritical - please explain. (2) In your second paragraph you refer to countless individuals. Are they countless because nobody has bothered to count them, or because nobody can count that high (in which case, what's the highest number you can count to?).
Aug. 26, 2016, 4:34 pm
Marcy from Brooklyn Heights says:
@P Murray - he is fromSaudi Arabia, a country where they cut off the hands of thieves and the religious police can arrest and punish you indefinately without a trial. The American justice system is not 100% perfect, but is more fair and advanced (according to all international standards and judgements - UN, Amnesty International, etc) than any Middle Eastern country. The only country in that region with a fair legal system is Isreal.
Dubai recently imprisoned a Dutch girl who was raped for fornication (she was locked up when trying to report her rape to the police). You could not name one country that has the rule of law in any recognizable form in the Muslim middle east.
Aug. 26, 2016, 5:57 pm
Stephanie from Fort Greene says:
Damn ignorant bigots and old farts.
Aug. 27, 2016, 1:37 am
joann says:
bless your heart, abdul.

there are those whom money owns, and their are those whom own money. i believe the latter is you; and i also believe that you and your business will prevail because of your kind act. you have surely passed a big test.

may Allah bless you. ameen
Aug. 27, 2016, 2:41 am
Betsy from Brooklyn says:
joann doesn't seem to understand the difference between who and whom (amongst other things she does not get).
Aug. 27, 2016, 12:50 pm
Frank from Park Slope says:
Abdul seems like a guy who has his heart in the right place. He may be a little confused about the Koran. The passages he refers to in his sign, and the article, were replaced (abrogated) by the violent parts that contradicted them later.
Aug. 27, 2016, 3:22 pm
HONEY Pooter from Williamsburg says:
This is so unoriginal, he stole the idea from a hindu man in Queens! He's the knock-off arab cheapo version! Just looking for attention.

Mwah mwah!
Aug. 27, 2016, 5:06 pm
Joann says:
He's just showing his arab PRIVILLEGE. It's our privillege to do this.
Aug. 28, 2016, 3:54 am
Abdul Elenani from Bay Ridge says:
Why is everyone getting so BUTTHURT over this?! Put some ice on your sensitive butts, then they won't hurt so much you douches! Dang!!! This so funky!!!
Aug. 28, 2016, 12:44 pm
Abdul Elenani CG from Brooklyn says:
I don't know who just made this previous comment in my name, everyone has there own personal opinion. Let's all respect each others opinions. Thank you.
Aug. 28, 2016, 4:11 pm
Mukta Elenai from Sunset Park says:
There was never a robbery - the whole thing was staged! He's just doing it for the attention.
Aug. 29, 2016, 3:50 am
Sam from clinton hill says:
This thief probably wanted money to buy drugs as the grand majority of robberies are drug related. I agree with the person who said forgive in front of a judge. What about the next person who gets robbed?
Aug. 29, 2016, 11:48 am
kristina from brooklyn says:
i think this was an amazing act and people should stop the hate. Because u guys know that what this man did was amazing and was right. you might say that he now encouraging other people to rob stores, but we choose our actions. So that man did his part and was right about it. Incase u haters forgot the percentage of people going to prison and coming out and doing worse than why they got into prison is really high just like abdul said. so stop the hate and let truth come out and spread!
Sept. 3, 2016, 4:58 pm
steve from bayridge says:
this is the same guy who renovated the place without getting permits with the building department. look at his ramp, its a trip hazard

3000$ in sales a day? seriously? 750 lattes? you asking to get robbed for realz?
Sept. 3, 2016, 7:10 pm

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