Police are searching for a thief who apparently prefers small change.

Police are searching for a thief who apparently prefers small change.

An unidentified man has stolen $866 in quarters from four Medford businesses since June 19. In each case, he used a key to unlock a device that either takes or dispenses coins and bagged the quarters in a brown sack before fleeing. Each theft took place while businesses were open.

"It is kind of weird," Medford police Lt. Mike Budreau said.

Budreau said the man was confronted only once during the thefts, likely because he looked like he was emptying machines in an official capacity. In that case he fled before employees realized his crime.

The man has grabbed enough change to be charged with first-degree theft, a felony, if he's caught and convicted. Police describe him as white, in his late 40s, about 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighing around 190 pounds. He is bald, has tan skin and drives a white sedan, similar to a Honda Accord, with Washington plates. Investigators are scratching their heads about where the keys came from, as machine company owners said all keys were accounted for.

"We're not sure how he got this key," Budreau said. "That is a mystery."

The first theft occurred at about 8:30 p.m. June 19, at Abby's Pizza, 1080 Riverside Ave. Video surveillance shows the man walking in, opening up a change machine, and making off with $81 in quarters.

On June 21, an employee at Roundtable Pizza, 2354 Poplar Drive, opened the business and found a box from a coin dispenser hidden in the men's restroom. Inspection of the change machine showed the box had been forcefully removed. The suspect grabbed up $600 in quarters and caused $300 worth of damage to the machine in that incident. There were no surveillance images available.

At 10:09 p.m. July 15, surveillance images from the Trophy Club, 812 S. Central Ave., show the man walking in, opening the jukebox and leaving with $50 in quarters before driving away in a white car.

The final theft happened at 1:10 p.m. at the Medford Center's Little Caesars when the man opened a video game in the lobby and stole $135 in quarters. When confronted by an employee, the man lied that he was there on official business and fled, police said.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact Medford police at 541-770-4783.

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/ryanpfeil.